The American Eagle Foundation’s headquarters can be found in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The foundation has teamed with Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, to display some very special rescue eagles in a sanctuary on the Dollywood property. Recently, a major storm tore through Tennessee and brought with it golf ball-sized hail and since two sanctuary residents were nesting on three baby eaglet eggs, their care team was concerned.
Franklin and Independence are two rescue eagles that live in the American Eagle Foundation’s sanctuary located at Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge. Both suffered previously from gunshot wounds and cannot be released into the wild. However, they have produced offspring that have been successfully released. Recently they have been caring for three eggs. With the hail storm in full force, Independence and Franklin shielded the eggs from harm’s way by nesting on top of them and taking blows to their bodies and wings from the hail.
Miraculously both Franklin, Independence, and all three eggs survived the storm which hit the Pigeon Forge area at the end of April, 2011. Soon after the storm, the three eggs hatched. The first hatched on April 29, the second on May 5, and the third on May 6.
The American Eagle Foundation provides food which is placed in an inconspicuous location in the sanctuary. Franklin and Independence retrieve the food numerous times per day to feed their young. The three baby eagles will stay with their parents for about six weeks at the sanctuary at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Then they will be transferred to an artificial nesting tower on Douglas Lake in the foothills of the Smokies where they will be cared for by humans but will have no direct contact with them. They will then be released after they are full grown (between 12 and 13 weeks.)