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7th Annual Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival Set for Feb. 4-6

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | 05:31am
Northwest Tennessee Prepares for Its Most Prominent Winter Visitors
                 
NASHVILLE – The winter pilgrimage of the majestic American Bald Eagle annually brings these fantastic creatures back to northwest Tennessee from their summer homes in the upper Great Lakes and Canada. With wingspans of six to eight feet and weights up to 16 pounds, the American Bald Eagle has been returning to the open water, marshes and cypress-laden sloughs of Reelfoot Lake for generations.
 
“The return of the American Bald Eagles to Reelfoot Lake has become one of the most exciting winter events in Tennessee,” Reelfoot Lake State Park Manager James Cox said. “The entire staff at Reelfoot Lake State Park looks forward to providing several unique opportunities for guests to see our national symbol in its natural habitat.”
 
Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival
 
This year’s Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival is set for Feb. 4-6 and will celebrate one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles outside Alaska. In its seventh year, the Eagle Festival offers a wide range of opportunities for Reelfoot Lake visitors to see these magnificent birds in the wild. Guided van and bus tours will be offered for $5 per person, leaving twice daily from the Reelfoot Lake State Park Visitor Center. Tour reservations are required
 
Local park and wildlife experts also will present several unique programs throughout the three-day event, offering something for all ages including walking tours, interpretive sessions, an art and photography contest, storytelling, a silent auction and several arts and crafts vendors. The Saturday evening program on Feb. 5 will feature John Stokes and his live Birds of Prey program, giving the audience a rare up-close look. Other displays and live birds of prey will be present throughout the weekend. 
 
The annual Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival is sponsored by the Reelfoot Lake Tourist Council, Reelfoot Lake State Park, the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Reelfoot Lake Research and Teaching Center, Eagle 97.3 radio station, and several local businesses in the area. For eagle tour reservations, please call (731) 253-9652. For a complete schedule of events and information on lodging during the Eagle Festival, call the Tourist Council at (731) 253-2007 or e-mail at visit@reelfoottourism.com. Additional information can be found at www.reelfoottourism.com
 
Reelfoot Lake State Park / Ranger Programs
 
Bald eagle and waterfowl tours, along with several educational lectures, will continue through Feb. 28 at Reelfoot Lake State Park. A special Saturday evening program series will be held at the park’s visitor center beginning at 7 p.m., covering a variety of topics. Free to the public, program topics include: 
  • January 22 – Raptor Rehabilitation: The team at Reelfoot Lake State Park will enlighten park visitors on the rehabilitation and release of injured birds of prey back into the wild. Also on hand will be several non-releasable birds, used in their educational and outreach programs.  
  • January 29 – Birds of Prey: Join Reelfoot Lake’s park staff for their own Birds of Prey program, introducing the audience to several raptors that call Reelfoot Lake home. Experts will shed light on why these raptors are so important to the ecology of the area. Special Programming Note: encore presentations of Reelfoot Lake State Park’s Birds of Prey program will be held Feb. 12, 19 and 26.  
  • February 5 – Save Our American Raptors: John Stokes and Dale Kernahan will give the audience an extraordinary opportunity to experience birds of prey at close range. Their program features a variety of hawks, owls, eagles and other majestic birds – some of which will soar above the audience. 
Designated a national natural landmark, Reelfoot Lake was created by a series of violent New Madrid fault zone earthquakes in northwest Tennessee during the winter of 1811-1812. Reelfoot Lake State Park offers outstanding recreational activities, such as wildlife viewing, fishing, boating, hunting and hiking. The park is located in Lake and Obion counties near Tiptonville. The park’s 280 acres are divided into 10 segments along 22 miles of the Reelfoot Lake shoreline. The park’s visitor and interpretive centers, auditorium and picnic and camping areas are located along State Highways 21 and 22.  
 
For more information about Reelfoot Lake State Park, including lodging and activities, please call the park’s visitor center at (731) 253-9652 or visit www.tnstateparks.com/reelfootlake.
 
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