Monitoring the happenings high atop the trees in Tennessee's Harrison Bay State Park has resulted in some recent highs and lows and the constant reminder that nothing in life, even tomorrow, is guaranteed.
By John Reitman •
Bird's eye view
Two years ago, a pair of bald eagles first were spotted near The Bear Trace golf course within the park. They gained worldwide acclaim when park ranger Angelo Giasante, a former Army ranger, shimmied up the tree and installed a Web cam so people everywhere could get a birds-eye view of how a nesting pair of bald eagles really live thanks to the efforts of a group known as the Friends of Harrison Bay .
Named Elliott and Eloise by Hannah Carter, daughter of Bear Trace superintendent Paul Carter, CGCS, the eagles have had mixed results in their attempts to successfully hatch eaglets. In 2011, a pair of eaglets hatched and eventually flew the coop, so to speak. Last year, however, the results were not as positive.
Two eggs, laid February 11 and 14, hatched March 16, but neither eaglet survived the process. This year, the Web cam is back in place and the couple is again keeping vigil over the nest after Eloise laid another pair of eggs.
The eggs, which were laid Feb. 10 and 13, are expected to hatch about March 17.
Last year, the golf course received a Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam for Carter's work in the pursuit of sustainability. The award specifically mentioned the Eagle Cam project as a factor in the course winning the award.
In its 26th year, the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect Tennessee's environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.
According to the Web site www.baldeagleinfo.com and the American Bald Eagle Foundation [http://baldeagles.org/home], both the male and female share time guarding and incubating the nest for an average of 35 days before the eggs hatch. Once an endangered species, bald eagles are on the rebound thanks to conservation efforts that have resulted in an estimated 7,000-plus pairs now nesting in every state except Hawaii.
The Friends of Harrison Bay Eagle Project is a cooperative effort of The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison Bay State Park and the USGA.