Riding the South

The blog of Scott and Jenny Morris
A heron holds its position over the creek

More eagle photos from

Shoal Creek.

A pair of adult American bald eagles take turns watching their nest over Shoal Creek in southern Tennessee.

By Scott Morris

The annual lesson in successful parenting — as presented by a pair of American bald eagles — is underway high over Shoal Creek.

As soon as one eagle lands, the mate takes flight to stretch its wings and find a fish in the swift current below.

The nesting parent lends its warmth to the incubating eggs until the other eagle returns.

I have been watching this display in tag-team parenting for three years on Shoal Creek, just north of Iron City, Tennessee.

One thing that always surprises me is the size of the massive nest. Eagle nests average 4-5 feet across and 2-4 feet deep, according to the National Eagle Center. The birds add new material every year.

Here are a few other eagle facts from National Geographic:

  • The name of our national bird comes from the old English word ‘balde,” which means white.

  • Males and females look alike, but the female is larger.

  • Their bodies can be 3 feet long and their wingspan 8 feet wide.

  • Eagles can soar more than 10,000 feet.

  • They can locate a fish up to a mile away.

  • They can dive bomb at over 100 mph to catch a fish.

  • They can live 35 years or longer in the wild.

 If you want to experience the lesson in bald-eagle parenting on Shoal Creek, launch your canoe or kayak on Factory Creek at the bridge on Hardin Loop, north of Iron City. Factory Creek flows into Shoal Creek after about a mile. About 30 minutes into the trip, you will start passing houses on the bank to the right as you approach a long point in the river. The nest is on the left before the point.

If you visit soon, you may see a hungry eaglet peeking over the edge of the nest, waiting impatiently for the next meal.

Eagle has landed

on Shoal Creek

Exploring a tributary to Shoal Creek