VOLUNTEER: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle  •  Born: 1989   •  Gender: Male

HERO: Species: Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Bald Eagle  •  Born: 1987   •  Gender: Female

‘Volunteer’ and ‘Hero’ are a bonded non-releasable pair of Bald Eagles that live in a private naturally landscaped aviary with a huge nest in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary at Dollywood. They have hatched and raised numerous young as a part of the AEF’s Captive Breeding and Hacking programs.

Learn more about AEF’s Captive Breeding and Hacking program.

This pair was already bonded when they were transferred to the American Eagle Foundation from the San Francisco Zoo in 2007. In a ceremony honoring fallen soldiers, Volunteer and Hero along with three other non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pairs were named by the families of these brave soldiers.

Volunteer was named in honor of Army National Guard soldier Joey Hunt. Hero was named in honor of SFC Stephen C. Kennedy.

In 2007, the American Eagle Foundation was chosen by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to receive four Bald Eagle breeding pairs from the San Francisco Zoo to care for—originally it was to be five pairs, however one mate passed away prior to the transfer. The living mate of the pair is now a educational Eagle.

These pairs were part of the San Francisco Zoo’s captive-breeding program. These regal birds had previously hatched numerous young Eaglets, which were placed in wild nests located on the Channel Islands—as part of a Bald Eagle recovery project located off the coast of Los Angeles. The zoo concluded its successful breeding program after re-introducing more than 100 young Bald Eagles into the wild.

Accompanied by AEF President Al Cecere and Julia Cecere, the Eagle pairs flew over America—from San Francisco to Knoxville—on the wings of a special FedEx cargo jet on June 18 and 19, 2007. After a physical check-up by University of Tennessee veterinarians, these Eagles were placed into their new aviary homes in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.


Bald Eagles typically mate for life. They will only look for a new mate if their faithful companion dies. Together, they build huge nests known as ‘aeries’ atop tall and strong trees. They make use of twigs, grasses, soft mosses, and feathers in making their nests.

They normally return to the same nest during breeding season, adding new materials to it each year.  A new eagle pair’s nest measures about five feet in width and two feet in depth, but as they add to it year after year, it can reach widths of over ten feet and weigh up to a ton or more.

Learn more about Bald Eagles.
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