Every year, a pair of American bald eagles nest and raise their brood at Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, about 20 miles from the heart of Jacksonville. These majestic birds are often seen flying from the creek to the nest with food for their young. There is a bench that is perfectly situated to observe the chicks, called eaglets.
Accessible from either the Red Square Spur multi-use trail or the Eagle Spur hiking trail, plan for a 1.5-mile hike then take a break and watch these regal birds. Listen for their calls to one another as they forage for bugs and seeds.
This is the second nesting location for this pair of bald eagles. Their first nest was in a large cypress tree in a basin swamp just south. The nesting site was used for many years until the top of the tree died and the nest became unsafe.
In the winter of 2012 they constructed the nest you see today in a safer pine tree on the edge of a cypress dome. Each year they add another 1 to 2 feet of material to the nest, making it larger and deeper. Although we don’t know the exact size of this nest, the largest bald eagle nest ever recorded was 9.5 feet across, 20 feet deep and weighed almost three tons.
If you are a nature lover, or like many others are just fascinated by this noble animal that is our national symbol, then seeing the eagles is a real treat.
You never know what wildlife you may see at Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park.