published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Harrison Bay State Park eagle steals show at Tennessee panel hearing

NASHVILLE — A bald eagle at work in its nest at Harrison Bay State Park in Chattanooga temporarily stole the show Wednesday at a legislative oversight hearing Wednesday.

State Environment and Conservation Commissioner Robert Martineau piped in a feed of a live webcam set up earlier this month to observe a pair of bald eagles, a male and female, that have set up residence in a tree for the second straight second year at the park.

"I'm going to turn it over to Brock (deputy commissioner Brock Hill) unless the eagle upstages us," Martineau told Senate Environment, Conservation and Tourism Committee members.

Too late, said committee Chairman Steve Southerland, R-Morristown, as he looked at his colleagues: "I think it has."

Lawmakers' focus initially switched back and forth between Martineau, Hill and the video screen showing the live Internet streaming of the bald eagle.

Oblivious to the camera and its audience, the large bird, a national symbol, shifted to and fro in the nest. It used its beak at times to apparently test the sturdiness of sticks and twigs used to create the nest. Occasionally, a breeze ruffled the white feathers on the eagle's head.

It was unclear whether the bird was the male, Elliott, or his female mate, Eloise. Last year, the birds had two eaglets.

Martineau and Hill's presentation dealt with state parks.

Later, speaking by telephone, Heath Pendergraft, assistant pro at the Bear Trace golf course at Harrison Bay, said the live webcam was set up earlier this month to reach out and "let people see how amazing these animals are."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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