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8th Annual Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival Set for Feb. 3-5

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 10:42am
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. “In celebration of this wonderful time of year, the staff at Reelfoot Lake State Park is 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. 3-5 and will celebrate one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles outside Alaska. In its eighth 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, a duck decoy painting contest for kids, and a variety of historical displays.  The Saturday, Feb. 4 programs at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. will feature John Stokes and his live Birds of Prey, giving the audience a rare up-close look.  Other programs will be scheduled throughout the weekend. 
 
The annual Reelfoot Lake Eagle Festival is sponsored by Reelfoot Lake State Park. For eagle tour reservations, a complete schedule of events and information, please call (731) 253-9652.
 
Reelfoot Lake State Park / Ranger Programs
 
Bald eagle and waterfowl tours, along with several educational lectures will be held in conjunction with this year’s Eagle Festival, covering a variety of topics.  Free to the public, program topics include: 
 
·       Through Feb. 6, Reelfoot Lake State Park will host its annual Eagle Tours. The park has established extensive guided and informational programs for winter visitors to Reelfoot Lake. The tour is a two-hour bus or van trip around Reelfoot Lake to observe the Bald Eagles and waterfowl. Tours are offered seven days a week. Buses leave the visitor center at 10 a.m. daily and 1:30 p.m. CT on weekends. Reservations are required. There is a minimal charge for the tour. Tour guides equipped with binoculars, telescopes and more importantly – extensive knowledge of the eagles – rarely have difficulty locating the birds. In addition to providing information about the eagles, the guides also will provide information about Reelfoot Lake and other waterfowl. For reservations or more information call the visitor center at (731) 253-9652.
 
·       Join staff on Saturday, Jan. 21, for Reelfoot Lake State Park’s own Birds of Prey program – a unique introduction to the injured raptors that call Reelfoot home. Interpretative specialists will shed some light on the raptors’ importance to the ecology and economy of this area.  
 
·       Also on Jan. 21, a Reelfoot Lake Tour and Hike will be offered around the lake to learn about this unique area. The tour includes observing eagles and waterfowl, a hike into the cypress forest, and a stop on the Earthquake dome to learn about the New Madrid Earthquakes.  Visit Native American mounds and the overlook on the Chickasaw Bluffs. Meet at the visitor center. The tour will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. and cost is $10 per person to cover shuttle transportation. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the Reelfoot Lake Visitor Center at (731) 235-9652. For more information email Robin.Wooten@tn.gov or David.Haggard@tn.gov.
 
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, picnic and camping areas are located along State Highways 21 and 22.
 
Join Reelfoot Lake State Park this year in celebration of Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary.  This year also marks the 200th Anniversary of the formation of Reelfoot Lake, created by the New Madrid Earthquakes.  An exhibit about the Steamboat New Orleans, which survived the New Madrid Earthquakes, will be on display throughout the month of February.
 
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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