Lady Independence & Sir Hatcher II, Smoky Mountain Bald Eagle Nest Cam




Nest Update

Sir Hatcher II and Lady Independence built a new nest in 2019 (nest #5), but its exact location has not yet been discovered.  For now, we will be streaming from their 2017-2018 nest (Nest #4) and will hopefully be able to see some activity from the eagles (especially before summer foliage is at its height), as they have been frequently seen in the area.


Educational Impact

The educational impact of our high-definition nest cams has been phenomenal, providing unprecedented insight into the Bald Eagle nesting process.

As hatch time approaches, all eyes will be peeled for the first pip or breakthrough of the egg shell by the baby inside. Then, thousands of viewers settle down to watch these babies grow and develop from downy bobble-heads to feisty and magnificent Eaglets, ready to take their first flight into what will be a steep learning curve of survival in the wild.

This project also focuses on conservation, habitat protection, and the dangers that eagles still face in the wild. In the case of this particular nest, a primary food source for the eagles, the Little Pigeon River, harbored discarded hooks, lines, and sinkers—artifacts that could and did present a real threat to the survival of the babies in the nest.  Our viewers learned what this type of pollution can do, and many people have been given the opportunity during the last two Chatter Reunions to help clean up the Little Pigeon River and to help educate others about the dangers of not disposing of fishing tackle properly.

To enhance the educational experience, a moderated chat is embedded on the cam page, allowing viewers to comment and ask questions about the eagles. Knowledgeable and friendly moderators help guide the discussion and provide insight. AEF also encourages students and groups who are studying eagles or related topics to reserve time in the chat where their questions can be answered. This has been a hugely successful endeavor, and we have welcomed many classrooms with students of all ages. Teachers across the nation have written us with glowing compliments about the positive impact this experience has had on their students.


Nest History

In 2019, Lady Independence and Sir Hatcher II built yet another nest and two eaglets were successfully raised and fledged from this new nest. As stated above, the location of the new nest has not yet been discovered. We will continue to stream from nest #4, which Lady and Sir Hatcher I used in 2017, and which Lady & Sir Hatcher II used in 2018. This nest is located on top of a very steep hill in Sevierville, TN and was first video streamed in 2018.

Lady Independence was hatched and raised by non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair Independence and Franklin at Dollywood and was then released into the wild in 2008 from AEF’s Hack Tower on Douglas Lake.

To honor the contributions of Bob Hatcher in helping to restore the Bald Eagle in Tennessee, the first male was called Sir Hatcher I and the current male is called Sir Hatcher II. Sir Hatcher II appeared with Lady in 2018, and we do not know what happened to Sir Hatcher I.

The history of this pair – along with the first Sir Hatcher – is very interesting and full of surprises! To understand the entire history of this pair (and Sir Hatcher I), you need to read the carefully documented backstory.

For the last several seasons, Lady has laid three eggs. We do not know whether 2 or 3 eggs were laid in 2019, but at least 2 eaglets fledged from nest #5 based on photographic evidence of the eaglets with Lady Independence perched in a tree close to the Sevierville Golf Club. She and Sir Hatcher have been wonderful parents and have raised their eaglets from soft tiny babies to strong mighty eaglets that eventually fledge into the Smoky Mountains.

Nest History with the Original Sir Hatcher

  • Nest #1 2012: aka “Kroger Nest” - collapsed while the adults appeared to be incubating eggs (Lady Independence would have been 4 yrs. old).
  • Nest #2 2013: aka “Kroger Nest” (in the same tree as Nest #1) - fell in a storm with two eaglets in the nest. Eaglets Abraham and Winfield were rescued by the AEF.
  • Nest #3 2014-2016: – Nest was abandoned by the eagles after 8 eaglets were raised in this nest.
  • Nest #4 2017: 3 eaglets raised in the nest.

Nest History with Sir Hatcher II

  • Nest #4 2018: 3 eaglets hatched and were later rescued because of repeated fishing tackle (lines and hooks) being brought into the nest. The eaglets were successfully released from AEF’s hack tower. Nest was abandoned at the beginning of the 2019 season.
  • Nest #5 2019: Location unknown - 2 eaglets.

About Our Cams

During this nesting season, one PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) camera will continue to stream from Nest #4.  The camera is powerful, and especially before the summer foliage appears, our cam operators will be able to search nearby trees for Sir Hatcher II and Lady Independence as they go about their daily activities.

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!


The American Eagle Foundation sincerely appreciates the support of our Smoky Mountain cam partners.

Spectrum
Mark’s Electrical Services
Nick Dwyer Tree Care