ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Life Sciences

The American Eagle Foundation - Saving One Life at a Time

Updated on July 10, 2013
Baby eaglets hatched in 2008
Baby eaglets hatched in 2008 | Source

What is the American Eagle Foundation?

The American Eagle Foundation is a non-profit institution dedicated to rescuing, caring for, rehabilitating (if possible) and re-releasing (again, if possible) birds of prey. It began in 1985.

There are two sites for the foundation located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. One is at Dollywood. The Wings of America Theatre hosts the Birds of Prey show and houses an aviary where guests may observe non-releasable bald eagles in a special habitat. There is also housing for the birds that participate in the live animal show. The Birds of Prey Show is an informative program that highlights the foundaton's purpose, interesting facts about a variety of birds of prey and both live trained birds and video.

The other facility is behind Dollywood. There is a raptor rehabilitation center, housing, breeding areas, exercise yards, offices, quarantine buildings and flight enclosures.

The Hacking Tower at nearby Douglas Lake is a frequent spot for rehabilitated birds and young eaglets to be released (or re-released) back into the wild.

The American Eagle Foundation cares for more than eighty birds of prey and is the largest Bald Eagle breeding facility in the world. More than 100 eaglets have been released in the area around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and hundreds more have been released elsewhere.

Due to the exceptional efforts of the foundation and Al Cecere, president and founder, bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Mike & Osceola at a Wings of America Birds of Prey show at Dollywood
Mike & Osceola at a Wings of America Birds of Prey show at Dollywood | Source

Teaching Programs

The American Eagle Foundation offers teaching programs for all ages. By special arrangement, the facility behind Dollywood can be toured. Handlers also visit schools, libraries and elsewhere, spreading the word about birds of prey.

Birds included in programs may be kestrals, screech owls, vultures, owls, hawks and falcons.

If you aren't in the area and want to see some of what goes on at The American Eagle Foundation, you can check out the AEF website at

Challenger - A Special Bald Eagle

You may have seen Challenger in your area. This special bald eagle was born in 1989 in Louisiana. Orphaned, he imprinted on humans and was rescued by the American Eagle Foundation. Named Challenger in honor of the space shuttle crew who died in 1986, the bald eagle has been trained for fly-overs during our national anthem.

His first flight was in 1996 and he has flown at many, many events since then. Included are such historic events as NFL games, the Super Bowl, baseball games and concerts.

It is truly an awe-inspiring and moving event to experience. I have seen Challenger fly on two occasions and have been brought to tears both times.

A markerAmerican Eagle Foundation, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN -
Dollywood, 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, TN 37862, USA
get directions


Submit a Comment

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 4 years ago from America

    Interesting hub. We have a wild life center here that takes in any eagle that needs help. We have lots of eagles around us and they are often in our yard. Voted up and more on your hub.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    It really is amazing. Thanks for reading and for your comments.

  • tebo profile image

    tebo 5 years ago from New Zealand

    What an interesting hub. It is good to read how the American Eagle Foundation is looking after the birds of prey in need. It is also incredible how these birds can be trained like Challenger. Thanks for sharing.

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    Challenger is a very impressive bird! Thanks for sharing his story and for sharing the information about the American Eagle Foundation. It sounds like this organization is doing a great job.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, LetitiaFT! It is a wonderful and amazing thing!

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    I feel blessed, too, Bobbi, to watch these majestic birds. I appreciate your comments!

  • LetitiaFT profile image

    LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

    It is so wonderful to see proof that the concerted efforts of devoted individuals can bring entire species back from the brink. Thanks for sharing.

  • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

    PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida


    I love all animals and birds. We have an eagle visit our woods once in a while. Our baby crow---that is grown now loves to chase him away---he and his buddies.

    I love to watch them fly they are so beautiful soaring in the air---it makes one seem so blessed to witness such a site.

    Thanks for writing this hub---I enjoyed it.

    Bobbi Purvis

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thank you for your kind words, bdeguilio. I feel the same way about birds. Challenger is a beautiful bird. I was able to watch him train - up close - one summer when I volunteered for the foundation. Truly amazing.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image

    Cindy A. Johnson 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks, mecheshier! It is a great foundation that definitely does a lot for eagles and other birds of prey.

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hi Cindy. Great Hub. I love birds of prey and especially eagles. Really enjoyed the video of Challenger, amazing and very moving. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Certainly worthy of a VU , share, etc...

  • mecheshier profile image

    mecheshier 5 years ago

    What a fabulous foundation. I love your picture a the wonderful information. Thank you. Voted up :-)