The last four of six young bald eagles that recently hatched at the San Francisco Zoo touched down at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville via Delta Airlines on Monday morning. The seven-week old birds were then placed inside an American Eagle Foundation (AEF) operated nesting and release tower overlooking Douglas Lake in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains – where they will spend the next six weeks growing and exercising before being set free into the wild (in mid-June). The first two bald eaglets arrived on May 3rd and have been eating well since being placed in their new condo-like artificial nest.
The 22-year old not-for-profit conservation group operates the United States Eagle Center at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and is dedicated to the recovery and protection of the bald eagle. The AEF (www.eagles.org) was recently chosen by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to receive the six eaglets and also their parents. In mid to late June, ten adult bald eagles (five breeding pairs) will arrive in Tennessee from the San Francisco Zoo via FedEx jet – soon after the zoo's breeding program ends this year. That program had previously supplied captive-hatched bald eaglets to the Catalina Island bald eagle recovery project off the coast of Los Angeles.
"We're really pleased to receive these youngsters to further our bald eagle recovery program in the East Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains area," said AEF Founder & President Al Cecere. "We expect that these West Coast born eaglets will soon be fully enjoying the beauty and natural resources that the eastern part of our country offers. After their release, it's possible that some of the birds will return to this general area to set up housekeeping and raise a family in the hills of Tennessee."
The majestic raptors arrive in Tennessee at a time when the Department of Interior and other conservation groups are focused on celebrating the national bird's comeback. The bald eagle is scheduled to be "delisted" from Endangered Species Act protection by late June. Over 300 captive-bred and translocated bald eaglets have been released in Tennessee since the early 1980's – more than any other State.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.