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Nesting bald eagles return to the capital county. (Photo by Kevin Buynie)

The Mercer County Park Commission has announced the second year of “Eyes on Eagles” programming to celebrate the four pairs of bald eagles that nest in Mercer County, including two pairs that have chosen County parks for nest sites. Building on the success of last year’s program, the Park Commission, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF), PSE&G and the Wildlife Center Friends are partnering to host eagle viewing programs throughout the spring nesting season.

The free events will be held at the West Picnic Area of Mercer County Park on the second Sundays and fourth Fridays of each month, from 1pm to 3pm through May 10, 2020. Guides will be on hand to help the public safely view bald eagles, providing binoculars and spotting scopes for a closer look.

“The habitat of Mercer County parklands has been improving for wildlife, and we are excited to welcome back this educational program,” County Executive Brian M. Hughes said. “With the work by our Stewardship and Naturalist staff, as well as the partners of this program, there is opportunity to get outside to observe and learn something new.”

Mercer County cares for more than 10,000 acres of natural land, providing critical habitat for the bald eagle and other threatened wildlife.

“With the program’s success from last year, it is important to continue this initiative to highlight nesting pairs of bald eagles,” said Aaron T. Watson, Park Commission Executive Director. “Informing the public about this endangered species and how to respectfully view these raptors is an important piece our staff will be teaching to visitors.”

PSE&G previously provided a grant for public programming and educational outreach to area residents. Mercer County Park Commission and Conserve Wildlife Foundation staff, and volunteers have provided free school field trips, in-school programs, adult lecture series and public nest-viewing opportunities.

The Park Commission’s two recent eagle nests provide wildlife enthusiasts with 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.

“Mercer County is an ideal microcosm for the bald eagle’s recovery in New Jersey,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director David Wheeler. “We are thrilled to partner with Mercer County Parks, Wildlife Center Friends, Tulpehaking Nature Center 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 parksinfo@mercercounty.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 Mercer County 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.

To learn more about bald eagle programming opportunities, please visit www.mercercountyparks.org or www.conservewildlifenj.org.

Submitted by Mercer County

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