A routine walk through a Blount County neighborhood was anything but on Saturday evening for one couple.
Craig and isabel Hauger were arriving back at their home in Allenbrook Subdivision on April 13 when she thought she spotted a bald eagle in a neighbor’s tree. She had never seen one, but Craig had.
“I knew it right away,” he explained. “I hadn’t seen one in years.”
Once spotted, Craig said he ran into his house to find his camera — no easy task since he hadn’t used it in years. But he was able to find it, rush out of the house and take some photos. It’s not an expensive camera, he said, but it was enough to get a clear shot. The bird took flight after about five minutes.
It may not be unusual to see a bald eagle in Blount County, but the area where it was seen is heavily residential. Several subdivisions spring forth along Raulston Road and beyond. The birds prefer to live near lakes, rivers or marshes. They are carnivores and eat fish as well as small birds and other mammals.
Craig said he can tell the eagle is an older one because of its completely white head. Eagles are 7 to 10 years old before they have that, he said.
In retirement, Craig said he and Isabel enjoy talking walks in the neighborhood and viewing nature. He has traveled extensively and said he’s seen eagles in the wild in Alaska, Canada and Mexico. This one in his neighbor’s tree seemed perfectly content to watch the world from atop that large tree, he said.
This couple even has an idea of why is was near their house. It seems the Haugers love to feed the wildlife.
“We have a line item budget for feeding the animals,” Craig said. “We feed squirrels and birds and other critters. We have animals all over the place.”
In addition to this eagle, Craig said he and others in the neighborhood have seen some really large hawks. There probably will be neighbors armed with cameras walking around hoping to spot the eagle now, Craig said.
It’s been fun to take in these spectacular birds, he said. He said his wife, who is from Chile, had one very appropriate word for that eagle: Majestic.
The bald eagle has been America’s national symbol since 1782.