Eagle Nesting

Eagle Nesting Cover

Eagle Chicks hang out in the nest on a sunny afternoon. Photo by Bryan Hochmuth.

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There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature. – Aristotle

Bald Eagle Nesting at Carolina Raptor Center

NOTE: The 2016/2017 nesting season is currently underway with at least 2 eggs in the nest. Due to unforeseen and extenuating circumstances, we were unable to get the eagle cam up and running before Derek and Savannah begin their courtship and nesting process. There is a possibility of an eagle camera going up if and when the eaglet(s) hatches and we will let the public know if this will occur.​

A note from our Curator of Birds and Programs Natalie Childers

At Carolina Raptor Center, we are incredibly blessed to have two Bald Eagles that have actively nested for many years. We've been through a lot of ups and downs with Derek and Savannah and are working constantly to improve our best practices and give them the best chance possible of a successful nesting season. Many eagle watchers have been disappointed as our lovely couple has not had eggs that have hatched in recent years, while in the past we've had six young raised and released back out into the wild through the use of our hack tower. In 2016, the pair sat on two unsuccessful clutches. However, we were incredibly fortunate and honored to be asked by Dan Nicholas Park, the State of North Carolina, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to foster an eaglet hatched in captivity in Salisbury, NC.

The choice to put in a baby eagle with an established nesting pair was not without risks, but Savannah and Derek proved to be fantastic parents and adopted the young one as their own. This eagle, named “Freedom,” was successfully reared and released back out into the wild. Thanks to program support by Duke Energy and the efforts of Dr. Roland Kays at NC State University, “Freedom” is currently part of a tracking program to study the migration habits of young Bald Eagles. For more information go to www.movebank.org and search for “LifeTrack Bald Eagles – Freedom.”

Though we do not interfere with the nesting process of Derek and Savannah, we do try to set up their captive environment in such a way that they have the best chance at success as possible. In 2016, the couple was not shifted out of their private quarters into the large Eagle Aviary for public viewing starting October 31; around this time they had started to show courtship behavior that included adding foliage to their current nest site. At this time, our bird care staff gave them additional greenery and branches to add to their nest, and we continue to do this every few days as unobtrusively as possible.

At the beginning of nesting season, Derek and Savannah spend more and more time in and around their nest indicating that eggs are soon to come. During this period, our other group of Bald Eagles, affectionately known as "The Bachelors" to our keepers, shows increased interest along the perimeter of Derek and Savannah's private enclosure. This is not unusual behavior as young Bald Eagles in the wild will often try to take the place of older adult males in the mating dance! At CRC, we are trying to keep disturbances to the mated pair to a minimum -- including the disturbance caused by other eagles. For all of these reasons, we usually make the decision to close the Aviary to the public for the duration of our nesting season when these behaviors are recognized. Therefore our display Golden and Bald Eagles are not accessible to the public on the Raptor Trail until late Winter/early Spring.

We are hopeful that keeping the disturbances and noise levels around the aviary to a minimum will give Derek and Savannah the time and space to have a successful nesting season.  Be sure to follow Carolina Raptor Center and Savannah Eagle on Facebook for updates as the season progresses. Thank you so much for your understanding and support of Carolina Raptor Center and our Bald Eagles.

~Natalie Childers, Curator of Birds and Programs

Eagles Nesting

Bald Eagles had never hatched at Carolina Raptor Center (CRC) prior to 2006. Since that time, five eaglets have been hatched in captivity at CRC and reintroduced to the wild. Prior to 2006, in 1989 and 1990, Golden Eagle chicks were hatched here. One of them was successfully released as part of a hacking (reintroduction) project in the mountains of Georgia. As far as we know, CRC has produced the only captive-hatched Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles in North Carolina!

Raising Young

Eagles sit on the nest for approximately 35 days after eggs are laid. Of the two parents, the female spends the most time on the nest keeping the eggs warm, with the male taking short stints incubating to give the female time to eat and stretch her legs. In order for incubation to continue, the parents must bond with the eggs. The adults are most likely to abandon the eggs early on during incubation; therefore, we keep all disturbances to the nest site to an absolute minimum during the incubation period (around 35 days).


Follow Savannah Eagle on Facebook at or on Twitter @Savannah_Eagle.

Raising Young

At Carolina Raptor Center, we allow the parents to raise their eaglets in the aviary to ensure that the young birds will properly imprint on their own species. Though parent rearing is usually the best option, sometimes it can be necessary to interfere if the eaglets appear ill or are not getting fed regularly by the parent birds. Eaglets, and other raptors, that are orphaned or captive bred can still be raised by humans and be released back into the wild. This can involve raising the young within sight of an adult bird of their species and/or feeding the babies using puppets that mimic their parents feeding them. Our rehabilitation department releases over a hundred orphaned raptors a year back into the wild that were either hand reared or fostered by some of our resident birds. Visual contact with visitors and caretakers at CRC is minimized to prevent stress on the parent birds; too much human contact can sometimes cause the birds to abandon their nest in the wild.

Follow this link to learn about what happens next.

Subhead: CRC’s Nesting Pair

The better half of CRC's most successful Bald Eagle mated pair, Savannah first laid eggs in 2004. Since that time, she and her fellow South Carolinian, Derek, have hatched six chicks that have been released back into the wild. Savannah is the more low key of the two birds and has her own Facebook page. South Carolina Native, Derek, the Bald Eagle, hails from the Low Country - Charleston to be specific. Half of the celebrated mated pair - Savannah and Derek -- he has cared for many chicks that have been released back into the wild. He is named after a young man who loved Carolina Raptor Center. When he passed away unexpectedly, his family set up a memorial in his name. Derek Hagemann's family celebrates the birth of each new eagle hatchling as one of their own.

Eagle Encounter (Not available during nesting season)

Take a step into the Eagle Aviary if you dare, have a conversation with Zlaty, the Golden Eagle, and tour Marcy’s Eagle Research Observatory. During this 45 minute encounter, participants will get “nose to beak” with some of our Bald and Golden Eagle residents and have an opportunity to take a photograph with one of these majestic creatures. The Eagle Encounter costs $15/each for members and $20/each for non-members (includes admission fee). Reservations are recommended. Limited to 4 participants. More info and scheduled dates on our Raptor Encounters page.