For golfers, eagles are extremely rare, whether on the scorecard or soaring over the golf course. But thanks to the support of the USGA, eagles are part of every round at The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tenn.
The USGA’s Green Section provided a grant to assist in documenting the breeding activities of a pair of bald eagles that built a nest more than a year ago in a 75-foot pine tree behind a green of the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout in Harrison Bay State Park, located near Chattanooga.
The grant allowed certified course superintendent Paul Carter and his staff to set up and maintain two “Eagle Cams” that provide streaming video of the eagles, which were named Elliott and Eloise by Carter’s 8-year-old daughter, Hannah. The cameras went live on January 5, and the streaming footage is available at harrisonbayeaglecam.org.
Elliott and Eloise hatched a pair of eaglets last winter, and they returned to their aerie around Thanksgiving ago in preparation for nesting season. After reinforcing the nest with pine needles, branches and twigs, Eloise laid two eggs, on February 11 and February 14.
Carter anticipates the eggs will hatch after an incubation period – shared by both Elliott and Eloise – of approximately 35 days. The chicks’ first flight usually takes place 10 to 12 weeks after hatching.
Certified as an Audubon Cooperation Sanctuary, Bear Trace has been a welcoming host for the eagles’ activities, proving that golf and wildlife can thrive together in a natural setting.
Said Carter: “The goal of this project is to continue to show interested individuals that golf courses are good for the environment, and if maintained and managed properly can be an environmental asset.”