During the winter of 1812 a number of severe earthquakes rattled the New Madrid fault, turning nearby swampland into the the largest natural lake in Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake. The nutrient rich lake supports an incredible amount of life, from algae to fish, on up the food chain to several kinds of birds of prey. Dozens of bald eagles nest near Reelfoot each winter, and the park rangers at Reelfoot Lake State Park know just where to find them.
On weekends in January and February, you can take an eagle tour, boarding an old school bus and spending a few hours traveling around the lake with a couple of park rangers. They stop at several nesting sites around the lake, breaking out telescopes to show you the eagles keeping their eggs warm.
The nests, like the one seen here, are cone-shaped and can reach eight feet in diameter. We happened to be viewing this nest when the daddy eagle returned from hunting. He nuzzled the momma eagle for a minute before she took off to find lunch. Daddy stayed behind to look after the eggs. I didn't catch the two of them with my camera, but if you look carefully in this photo, you'll see a bit of white poking up over the top of the nest. That's the momma bird.