Deena C. Bouknight, Contributing Writer
While eagles are not a common sighting in Western North Carolina, Macon County is home to at least a few. And, for the past few years, a pair have been returning to a private property on the shores of Lake Emory in Franklin. They have built a massive nest in a pine tree that provides an ideal view of the water as well as the shoreline.
The family who owns the property named the eagle parents, America and Bountiful. Last year, they hatched out two eaglets, named Glory and Hallelujah, or Hal for short. The parents have raised other eaglets over at least the past four years. This year, one eaglet has shown its fuzzy head. They named it Joy, in honor of Barbara McRae, vice mayor of the Town of Franklin and a local bird expert and historian, who lost her life March 2 after battling cancer. The new eaglet is nicknamed Barbara Joy due to the “joy” that property owners said McRae brought to Macon County.
The N.C. Wildlife Commission is aware of the eagles and monitors their life and habits.
North Carolina Wildlife Diversity Biologist Chris Kelly, who is based in Asheville, pointed out that the eagle’s nest is sturdy and shared, “The antics of young birds, especially as they approach fledging, can be quite humorous. It takes them a while to get the hang of handling prey (e.g., plucking fur or feathers, tearing a carcass, not dropping it) and this usually seems to be accompanied by noisy fussing. It sounds like a temper tantrum to our human ears.”
The property owners and their friends and family members have enjoyed learning about and observing the eagles, which mate for life and share in parenting responsibilities. The property owners and wildlife experts are on the lookout for a possible nest mate. Another name is picked out just in case another eaglet is spotted: Independence, to be nicknamed Indy.
The location of the eagles’ nest is not disclosed due to the sensitive nature of the birds and the possibility that too much human activity will disrupt the eagles’ ability to raise their young successfully.