Captive Eagle Breeding

Between 7-15 Eaglets hatch at the AEF each spring. Every one of them is released into the wild
to help repopulate Bald Eagles in East Tennessee.

Eagle Mountain Sanctuary is home to 2 of the AEF's Bald Eagle breeding pairs.

AEF Breeding Aviary

AEF Headquarter's Breeding Aviary is home to four more Bald Eagle breeding pairs and one
Golden Eagle breeding pair.

AEF Breeding Aviary
AEF Breeding Aviary Parents and Eaglet

A non-releasable Bald Eagle breeding pair cares for a young eaglet.

AEF Breeding Aviary Parents and Eaglet

Eagle breeding pair at the AEF typically lays between 2-3 eggs each spring.

To ensure the success of the Captive Breeding Program, all eggs are analyzed for viability.

AEF President Al Cecere removes eggs from a nest to be tested for viability. Viable eggs are
typically returned to the nest and the parents don't even skip a beat in the incubation process!

For research purposes, eggs are measured in weight and in dimension.

To ensure the safety of many of the eggs laid by AEF breeding pairs, the AEF opts to incubate
some of them artificially. When the eggs hatch, they are given back to a pair of Eagle parents!

The first of three siblings makes it's way into the world!

Two freshly hatched and fuzzy eaglets stay warm and cozy inside a Lyon Incubator.

"Where am I?"

Eaglets that hatch in the AEF's incubation facility receive several feedings before being placed
with a pair of bald Eagle parents.

These eaglets hatched in a nest at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary.

One method used in the recovery of the bald eagle is the captive breeding of non-releasable eagles, or the translocation of wild eggs or eaglets, and the subsequent hacking of eaglets into the wild.

The American Eagle Foundation has been a leader in this Captive-breeding initiative. From 1992–2022, the AEF has released a total of 182 Bald Eaglets and 11 Golden Eaglets from its Hack Tower near Douglas Lake in East Tennessee. More than half of these have been produced by captive bald eagle breeding pairs cared for by the American Eagle Foundation.

The American Eagle Foundation was one of the only organizations in the United States still permitted by the USFWS to conduct captive bald eagle breeding and Hacking. It was truly a privilege and an honor to contribute to the wild bald eagle population though this program. We will continue to release any eaglets that have been hatched and raised by our remaining pairs. We will also continue to support orphaned or translocated eaglets through our hack tower near Douglas Lake.

The Process

The goal of our Captive Breeding program is to yield as many healthy eaglets as possible annually and to allow all of our eagle parents to raise offspring each spring and summer. Our processes typically allows all of our eagle breeding pairs to have the opportunity to raise 1-3 eaglets every year.

Ideally, when captive eagle breeding pairs lay eggs, they can be entrusted with those eggs throughout the entire 30-40 day process of incubation, hatching, and raising of eaglets, especially when they have a successful track record of incubation and hatching.

After the eggs hatch the Eaglets are observed by the AEF to ensure that they are healthy.

History and Success

Over the years, AEF has cared for over a dozen non-releasable bald eagle breeding pairs.

Current Bald Eagle Breeding Pairs:

  • Isaiah & Mrs. Jefferson: reside at AEF Headquarters
  • Volunteer & Hero: reside at AEF Headquarters
  • Honor & Braveheart: reside at Eagle Mountain Sanctuary

Past Bald Eagle Breeding Pairs:

  • Glenda & Grant (Grant escaped and has not been captured, Glenda now resides in the female section at EMS)
  • Franklin & Independence (Both passed away in 2021)
  • Freedom & Faithful Spirit (Freedom passed away in May 2020 from natural causes. Faithful Spirit now resides in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary)
  • Peace & Faithful (Peace passed away in 2016, and Faithful now resides in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary)
  • Eleanor & Mr. Roosevelt (Ellie passed away on Jan. 17, 2018 with no apparent injury. Roo now resides in Eagle Mountain Sanctuary)
  • President & First Lady
  • Liberty & Justice
  • Tennessee & Constitution
  • Crazyhorse & Juliette
  • Pilgrim & Mayflower
  • Old Glory & America
  • Dempsey & Twilight
  • Pilgrim & Twilight

Past Golden Eagle Breeding Pair:

  • Wankan-Tankan & Cheyenne (Wankan Tankan passed away Jan. 24, 2018 from cancer. Cheyenne was transferred to SIA to live out the rest of her life with other golden eagles.