[Bristol-Birds] photos of the 2nd Sullivan Co Bald Eagle bredding pair and nest

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2012 19:47:08 -0500

A pair of Bald Eagles, discovered perched in the rain at Boone 
Lake, 1 Feb 2012, is shown at a nest they are building atop a
high ridge overlooking the South Fork Holston River arm of the
lake between Bluff City and Davis Marina in Sullivan County
today (12 Feb 2012).  The photo was taken by Mike Sanders.

The pair flew about 1,300 yards upstream towards Bluff City where
they were relocated about 45 minutes later and Sanders was able
to take this photo of the pair copulating on a limb above the lake.

In the photo at the
left, taken by Gail
Williams, the pair is
shown perched in
the tree where they
were mating.  The
larger bird on the
left is the female
and the smaller to
the right is the male.

The nest site can be viewed from Reynolds Road, in the 
Reynolds-Droak Plantation just upstream from the Enterprise
Road bridge (formerly known as Rainbow Bridge before the
reservoir was impounded).  The entrance to the plantation 
subdivision turns in off Droak Road.

The birds have distinctive markings such as a very dark patch
of brown behind the eye for the female and a lesser amount of
brown behind the eye of the male.  Such markings are typical
of birds four to five years of age and possibly nesting for their
first time.

About an hour before this pair was found in the vicinity of the
nest, another pair (the second known for Boone Lake this
season) was observed from Enterprise Road just before the
bridge on the Buffalo Community side.

This pair had fully adult white heads and complete feathering
of the primaries of the left wing which the male of the nesting
pair does not have -- a missing primary in nesting male's left

The four flew together in sight of our field party several times
but no confrontation or air challenges were observed,

Before going to the mating tree to breed, the nesting pair
flew long periods in close-following formations.
The female would descend to the male and extend her
legs and talons towards him but there was no contact.  
This is a breeding ritual.  After mating, the male left and
circled on thermals above the tree where the female 
remained for an extended period.  He did not immediately
go to the nest.

While the party was in the vicinity of the nest, the female
made one flight up to the nest structure and the male made
two flights, both landing at the nest.  They both soared for
long periods above the nest and flew past it at close range
several times.

One of a resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks which is
believed to be nesting in the vicinity of the cliffs, constantly
challenged the pair and made long dives and chases after
the eagles. 

A Sharp-shinned Hawk also challenged the air space of
the eagles and, at times, both the Red-tail and Sharpie were
in pursuit and diving at the eagles.

An estimated 20 hours of field work over a four to five day
period this past week, were invested in stakeouts, mapping
and exploring for the eagle pair.  One bird was seen to fly
about two miles, going to a high ridge roost one evening 
just before dark and after sundown.

There are now three (3) Bald Eagle nests active in the
South Fork Holston River watershed in the region.
One is on South Holston Lake at Avens Bridge, another along
TN Rt. 44 and the river and the Boone Lake pair.

The party checked on 
the Avens Bridge nest 
about 4:30 p.m. and 
found an adult eagle 
on the nest.

The field party for today 
included: Wallace Coffey, 
Mike Sanders, Gail Williams 
and Carolyn Coffey.

Let's go birding . . . .

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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  • » [Bristol-Birds] photos of the 2nd Sullivan Co Bald Eagle bredding pair and nest - Wallace Coffey