Rising Bald Eagle Numbers Expand Annual Count

Bald eagles are popping up in unusual parts of Tennessee, according to the state ornithologist. Numbers are thought to be on the rise around the country.

BaldEagleState ornithologist Scott Somershoe says eagles are pushing into somewhat populated areas, even some that aren’t close to water. There’s one nest inside the Franklin city limits.


“They tend to nest within a quarter mile of Percy Priest or Old Hickory – big lakes and reservoirs, not a bunch of farm ponds.”

Somershoe says it’s not unusual to see a bald eagle feasting on the side of the road.

“They will scavenge on roadkill. Sometimes you see them on the side of the interstate, eating on a deer carcass.”

In the early 1980s, no bald eagles were known to be living in Tennessee. At last count, there were 150 pairs of the iconic birds, which mate for life.

A new statewide count is going on now. Somershoe says there may be other nests in unlikely places. He’s asking for birdwatchers to notify him of any sightings. The numbers will be lumped in with figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is trying to estimate population growth nationwide. The bald eagle was taken off the “threatened” list of the Endangered Species Act in 2007.

Contact Somershoe at (615) 781-6653 or scott.somershoe@tn.gov.

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