The Mercer County Park Commission is pleased to announce that two pairs of bald eagles have chosen County Parks for nest sites this breeding season, continuing their expansion in New Jersey and the greater mid-Atlantic region. To celebrate the resident eagles, the Park Commission, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF), PSE&G, and the Wildlife Center Friends have launched a partnership to provide bald eagle-themed programs.
The first free public event will be at Mercer County Park at the West Picnic Area on Friday, February 8 from 1 to 3pm. Participants will meet with naturalist staff and walk to the viewing site, where interpretation on eagle nesting will be offered. Attendees will also have the opportunity to view eagle activity through a spotting scope and binoculars.
“We now have the perfect opportunity to educate school children, local families and the public about the recovery of bald eagles,” County Executive Brian M. Hughes said. “Mercer County’s preserved open space and parklands provide a rich habitat for nesting eagles and we hope the community can learn about our newest inhabitants.”
This new weekly series will run through May.
Mercer County cares for more than 10,000 acres of natural land, providing critical habitat for the bald eagle and other threatened wildlife.
“It is important to increase awareness and appreciation for bald eagles, one of our most iconic endangered species,” said Aaron T. Watson, Park Commission Executive Director. “Learning more about the bald eagle and its nesting patterns is a unique opportunity, and we could not have done it without our partner organizations.”
PSE&G has issued a grant for public programming and educational outreach to area residents. Park Commission and Conserve Wildlife Foundation staff, and volunteers will be providing free school field trips, in-school programs, an adult lecture series, and public nest viewing opportunities.
“PSE&G has a long record of supporting the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Conserve Wildlife Foundation and local efforts to aid in the recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population,” said Rob Pollock, PSE&G’s Senior Director, Environmental Projects and Services. “The Mercer County Park Commission eagle programs provide an excellent opportunity to help raise public awareness of this remarkable success story.”
The Park Commission’s two eagle nests provide wildlife enthusiasts a rare opportunity to view eagles in nature, but for the safety of the eagles all viewing will be done from a distance. Bald eagles and many bird species are sensitive during their nesting season. Park patrons must remain on marked trails at all times; disturbance to wildlife will cause harm, where they may refuse to return in the future. Public programs will provide important tips to park users on “eagle etiquette,” including information on federal regulations prohibiting the disturbance of bald eagle nests.
“With new nests and regular sightings of bald eagles just a few miles from the state capital, Mercer County serves as a microcosm for the eagle’s recovery across New Jersey as a whole,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director David Wheeler. “We are thrilled to partner with Mercer County Parks, Wildlife Center Friends and PSE&G to help connect Mercer County residents with this all-American symbol of the wild right in our own backyards.”
Local and regional wildlife photographers are encouraged to share their images of the breeding eagles through email or social media. Images can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the photographer’s name, or shared through social media by tagging or mentioning the Mercer County Park Commission on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If posting pictures of eagles in our parks, tag the Park Commission and use the hashtag #capitalcountyeagles. Credit will be given to the photographers if outside photos are shared.
CWF is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s endangered and threatened wildlife and their habitats. Wildlife Center Friends is a supportive partner of the Mercer County Wildlife Center, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission.