STAFF PHOTO / Bald Eagle behind Thompson Grove Park in Manalapan

Bald Eagles are a symbol of America, but did you know they are a symbol of New Jersey as well? There are 250 active nests in New Jersey – meaning the nests produce eggs – and they are found in all 21 counties, according to the 2022 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Fish and Wildlife and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Although they are not endangered anymore, it’s still important to be respectful of their habitats. Even though you can spot their nests from a mile away because of their huge size, you never want to approach a bird or a nest, especially if the bird is injured. Human interaction can severely disrupt their natural patterns.

Instead, grab your camera or binoculars and watch these beautiful creatures fly high in the sky or dip down to the water for an afternoon meal. The adults have the typical white head with black body, with the mama sitting on the nest and the papa hunting for fish. The juveniles are brown (and can look like hawks from a distance) and the babies are white or brown, fluffy and oh-so-adorable.

Here are some of our favorite spots in New Jersey where the eagles are easily visible. They can be seen year-round, but they begin courtship and building their nests in January, and you will most likely see baby birds by late April.

Cape May
Lewes Ferry
A pair of Eagles with their nest can be seen high above the water.

STAFF PHOTO / Bald Eagle nest above the lake at Mercer County Park in West Windsor

Duke Farms
There’s a camera perched above the nest so you can watch the family in real time. It’s especially incredible to follow the hatching season and observe as the chicks are born. Learn more about the eagles’ wildlife habits, ecosystems and more through a virtual kit that is especially useful for young birders. There is also a book about the Duke Farms Bald Eagles that you can read to learn more from the experts.

Maurice River Bluffs
The Nature Conservancy, Millville
An active Bald Eagle nest is visible from the floating dock, which is found on the Blue Trail.

Great Egg Harbor River
Mays Landing
Pull off of Main Street or Farragut Avenue on the edge of the river and you can park at Gaskill Park to fish, watch the boats or catch a glimpse of an eagle sitting on its nest, to the right of where the homes across the riverbed are located.

STAFF PHOTO / Bald Eagle catches a fish at Mercer County Lake

Mercer Lake
Mercer County Park, West Windsor
Mercer County is home to four pairs of nesting Bald Eagles, including two sets that live in the park. The best time to visit is around February when the eggs are laid and starting to hatch. The Mercer County Parks Commission offers the Eyes on Eagles program on select dates to teach groups of professional and amateur birders about their mating habits, care for their young and biological features. If you’re lucky, you may see a daddy eagle hunting for fish or teaching a juvenile to fly.

Mercer Meadows
Cold Soil Road, Lawrence Township
The eaglets here hatched at the beginning of the month, so you should be able to spot the birds in the nests if you use a careful eye (with some help from electronics).

DARLENE DE SANTIS / DOUBLE D PHOTOGRAPHY / A Bald Eagle flying in The Meadowlands

The Meadowlands
East Rutherford
This is a prime area for bird watching in general because of the natural habitats and Bergen County loves this beloved bird. “The Bald Eagles of the Meadowlands & Beyond” is a free 62-page online reference guide sponsored by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Plus, the first-ever Meadowlands Bald Eagle Festival was held in January by the Bergen County Audubon Society and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. The Bergen County Audubon Society also holds programs such as Return of the Bald Eagle at the New Jersey Botanical Garden, or the Lower Hackensack River Eagle Count (save the dates for January 2024).

Swimming River Road
Residents of Monmouth County flock here to see the eagles on the reservoir near the dam.

Thompson Grove Park
Thompson Grove Road, Manalapan
If you travel the path through the park, past the dog park, past the disc golf course, to where the open space is, there is a boat landing on the right side (past the portable bathroom) where you can walk toward the edge of the water. On the opposite side of the water is a white chair along the edge; if you look up and to the right, the eagle tends to sit on the branches. We assume he’s waiting for some fish for a midday snack. If you take a kayak or canoe further down, you’ll be able to see the nest up in the trees.

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