Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher have a special history with the American Eagle Foundation. Lady was hatched at Dollywood in the nest of non-releasable Bald Eagles Independence & Franklin in 2008. She returned to the area with her mate in 2011, and they raised 13 eaglets through 2017. In 2018, Lady returned with a new mate, Sir Hatcher II.
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Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher II
In the winter of 2018, local photographer Charles Collins contacted Al Cecere, AEF President, to inform AEF that there was a new male adult bald eagle seen perched with Lady Independence at the nest, and this eagle was also wearing a metal leg band.
Mr. Collins made many attempts to capture the new male’s band number, but it wasn’t until March 23, 2018 that the new male’s band number (USFWS #629-43876) was confirmed by close-up photos.
AEF records show the new male, now approximately 6 years old, was brought to AEF in 2012 because he failed to fledge from his wild nest located in Marion County, TN. The eaglet was placed in AEF’s Douglas Lake hack tower and was released at approximately 14-16 weeks old. The eaglet was named Chattanooga at the time of the release, was given patagial tag of B2, and USFWS band # 629-43867.
To continue honoring the contributions of Bob Hatcher to the restoration of the Bald Eagle in Tennessee, the new male will be named Sir Hatcher II.
What We Still Don’t Know
A third adult eagle has been seen at the nest, but we do not know whether this is a male or female. The nesting pair (Independence and Sir Hatcher II) have generally been tolerant of this eagle when it perches in the nest tree; however, at other times, it has been driven away from the nest. Could this possibly be the original Sir Hatcher? We just don’t know.
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In the vast aviary on Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood, a female eaglet was hatched and raised by non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair Independence and Franklin, and was then released into the wild on July 24, 2008 from AEF’s Hack Tower on Douglas Lake. She was a very large eaglet, weighing 11 pounds at release.
In the Fall of 2011, the female returned to the general area with her mate, just 5 miles from the American Eagle Foundation, building their first nest in a tree on Winfield Dunn Parkway close to a Kroger supermarket in Sevierville, TN.
After the pair built their first nest, local wildlife photographers noticed that the larger eagle (thus most likely
female) was wearing a metal leg band. It wasn’t for a couple of years, however, (in 2014) that enough telephoto photos
were taken by AEF Volunteer John Prickett and friend David Collins to be pieced together. This allowed AEF to read
the ID number on the Eagle’s metal leg band (
#629-43830). To everyone’s surprise, it was revealed to be a female eagle that actually had come from the American
“It’s just so good, such a great feeling to know that some of that youngsters have survived long enough to come back to this area, build their own nest, and raise true Tennessee eagles right here in the heart of Sevierville,” Al Cecere, founder of the American Eagle Foundation, says.
The AEF named her Lady Independence, in honor of her mother. Her mate was named Sir Hatcher in honor of AEF friend, mentor, and supporter Bob Hatcher, the man who made the AEF’s hacking program possible in the early 1990s. They have produced 13 young since 2012.
‘Lady’ and ‘Sir’ have built several nests before constructing their current home. The early nests were not very sturdy, but they learned from experience! In fact, cams were installed in 2016 on their previous nest in anticipation of streaming the nest live last season. But the eagles moved again, relocating a few hundred yards away in a different tree. At the time of this writing, the eagles seem not to have made up their mind for sure about which nest they will lay eggs in, as they are bringing sticks to their last 2 nests. There are cams in both nest trees, and we are hopeful they will decide soon.
Photos & Videos
About Our Cams
Two high-definition cams are available on this page. There are two PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras on the nest that give optimal angles to see the eagles. Viewers can experience important moments in the nest, from eggs being laid, brooding, hatching, food deliveries, first feedings of the eaglets—and lots more! As the eaglets grow, developmental changes can be noted, culminating in self-feeding, branching, and ultimately fledging the nest.
At night, an infrared light is turned on. The eagles cannot see this light – it is outside their visible spectrum of light. Neither can humans. If you were at the nest site, looking up at the tree at night, you would only see light from the moon or stars. The infrared light is converted into visible light by the camera (but only black and white), and then we see the light because it has been converted and streamed to our computers!
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