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Eagle Watchers Flock to Dale Hollow Lake for Annual Tour

Nashville District Public Affairs
Published Jan. 28, 2020
USACE photo by Mark Rankin

Eagle Watchers look for Eagles at Dale Hollow Lake during the annual Eagle Watch Tour Jan. 25, 2020. (USACE photo by Mark Rankin)

CELINA, Tenn. (Jan. 27, 2020) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District rangers and staff at Dale Hollow lake hosted a free Eagle Watch Tour on Jan. 18, and Jan. 25, where bird enthusiasts witnessed the majestic beauty of the nation’s symbol.

For almost 25 years in mid-January, residents from Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama have been boarding the Corps barge at Dale Hollow Lake to cruise and watch the American Bald Eagles as they spread their wings and fly overhead.

“It’s fun to see them return every year and see how many people are interested in eagles and love them as much as we do,” said Spencer Taylor, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger at Dale Hollow Lake.

Taylor said the staff enjoys hosting folks who travel from far and near to catch views of the eagles that call Dale Hollow Lake home during the winter.

He said the program began nearly 30 years ago when the Corps took on a project after the eagle was declared an endangered species.  The Corps partnered with the Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn., and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency to start a hacking program at Dale Hollow Lake to nurture eagles during the winter months and help increase public awareness about the Bald Eagle and the importance of preserving them.

“This program is a success,” said Taylor. “It was designed to increase awareness and alert the public of the beauty of eagles and it’s done just that.”  

Taylor said the Eagle Watch Tour is one of the many highlights of the winter season at Dale Hollow Lake. The Corps offers two chances for people to spend their Saturday on board the barge sightseeing, talking about eagles and mingling. 

He said Eagles come to Dale Hollow lake during the winter when a better food supply is available and food and water sources farther north in Canada are frozen.  Warmer winter temperatures sometimes mean fewer eagles have elected to abandon their summer homes and head south to Tennessee and Kentucky. 

Mike and Jenna Beck from Nashville, Tenn., invited their son, Travis and his wife Kelly on the tour. They are avid eagle watchers and have braved the cold and rain for the tour at Dale Hollow for the past four years.

“We love to be outdoors and this eagle tour is great,” said Jenna Beck.  “We thought it would be a great idea to bring our kids this year,”

Taylor said every year people of all ages come and enjoy the free tour, view the eagles and learn the history of the eagle.

Taylor said the barge picks up watchers from the Lillydale recreation area at 9 a.m., and noon.  It travels across the lake and gathers the remaining group at Dale Hollow Resort State Park.  The barge holds 50 people and the group ‘Friends of Dale Hollow Lake’ serve hot chocolate, coffee, water and snacks. 

The Web family, dad, Josh, mom, Ashley, and their children Alley Ana, Aiden, Marie, Shy and Josh Jr., made the event a family trip.

“This is a day we all take time to hang out and enjoy the outdoors,” said Ashley. We have been coming to Eagle Watch Tour for almost 3 years, and we enjoy it more and more every year.”  

Alex and Rhonda Case from Cookeville, Tenn., said they love everything about Dale Hollow Lake so much that they bought a home here and take advantage of the Eagle Watch by getting outdoors with others that love the lake too.

“We love Dale Hollow Lake and riding the barge to see the eagles because it provides us a closer look from the lake to see the eagles,” said Rhonda Case. 

Taylor said there were a few new people on the tour but mostly experienced sightseers always return.  

“We had a great turnout this year as usual,” said Taylor.  “It usually fills up fasts and it’s always fun to just see how many people are interested in eagles and love them as much as we do.”

To reserve a spot, visit the Dale Hollow Facebook page or call the Dale Hollow Resource office at (931) 243-3136. 

(The public can get more water safety information at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/WaterSafety.aspx and local lake information at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Locations/Lakes.aspx. The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)