Thanks to an increased grant provided by the USGA Green Section, the Eagle Cam at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay in Harrison, Tenn., is back for a fourth consecutive year – now with state-of-the-art bells and whistles.
A pair of bald eagles, Elliot and Eloise, built a nest in a tree on the golf course at Harrison Bay in 2010, garnering the attention of course superintendent Paul Carter. In an effort to provide a safe and nurturing environment for arguably America’s most iconic creature, Carter sought assistance from the USGA.
In the meantime, Carter and his staff wanted to get a closer look at the nesting activities of Elliot and Eloise and also share it with the public. The USGA echoed Carter’s enthusiasm when asked for help with the project.
“It was an absolute no-brainer from our end,” said Jim Moore, the director of education for the Green Section. “We’ve been interested in birds on golf courses for a long time, so it was an easy decision. Every penny has been worth it.”
Carter and his staff installed a camera in the tree in 2011 and provided a live Internet feed at harrisonbayeaglecam.org. After receiving positive feedback the first three years, Carter wanted to give Elliot and Eloise’s fans a better viewing experience this year.
Again with the USGA’s assistance, Carter was able to install a pan/tilt/zoom camera to follow the eagles outside of the nest and zoom in on the eggs, as well as a microphone to pick up their verbalizations and infrared capabilities to observe them at night.
“Now we can stalk them 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” joked Carter, who oversees the agronomy efforts for all three Bear Trace courses, which are owned by the state of Tennessee.
Carter, who has helped the Bear Trace win a 2013 Golf Digest Green Star Award and a 2014 GCSAA/Golf Digest Environmental Leaders in Golf Award recently, is thankful for the USGA’s mutual interest in Eagle Cam.
“I wouldn’t be able to share this without the generosity and support of the USGA,” said Carter. “We wanted to show that this can be an environmental sanctuary and they’ve helped us reach more people than we could have on our own. I hope they’ve gotten as much out of it as we have.”
Eloise laid her first egg of 2014 on Feb. 4 and a second one on Feb. 7. With a standard incubation period of 35 days, the arrival of the new eaglets is expected around March 11.
Four juvenile eagles, two each from 2011 and 2013 hatchings, are often seen on the grounds at Harrison Bay, as eagles tend to stay within a mile of the nest before fully maturing around age 5.
You can follow the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam on Twitter: @HBSPEagleCam.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.