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Greybeards Build Bald Eagle Nest that People can Inhabit
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Monday, May 16, 2022
 

BY SARA FOCHT

The eagle nest at the MK Nature Center in Boise is modeled on the largest bald eagle nest ever found.  While this particular nest was located in Florida, eagle nests in suitable habitat can reach huge dimensions.

Nests become so large thanks to the efforts of the eagle pair using the nest.  A pair of eagles will reuse the same nest for decades, adding new nesting materials each year.  A nest in Ohio contained two tons of material, weighed after the nest caused the tree it was in to fall.  

With bald eagles regularly seen along the Boise River, particularly during winter, the installation of the nest seemed like an addition that visitors would enjoy.  Being able to climb into the nest provides an interesting perspective for visitors.

It piques their curiosity about how birds build nests and the intricate structure birds achieve in their nest building efforts.  Nature center staff uses the nest during programs, helping students learn about the habitat eagles need for nesting and raising eaglets.  

 The Friends of MK Nature Center stepped in to help raise funds for nest construction.  And a  dedicated group of Master Naturalists, the self-named Graybeards, volunteered to take on the project.

 They started by making a scale model of a nest and developing plans for the actual construction.  Working over a period of several months, the volunteers prepared the site and created the platform for the nest.  They worked with a local company to install a foundation of wire cable and wire mesh.   Sticks and branches were woven into this foundation, creating the nest structure.

Given the size of the nest, additional volunteers joined in the effort to gather enough wood to make the nest.  An unlikely source turned out to be at Lucky Peak where driftwood gathers along the shoreline.  The Army Corps of Engineers gave permission for the wood gathering effort.  This was very helpful in providing an excellent source for the sizes and lengths of wood needed to weave the nest.

Another local company, RSCI, built and installed the stairs for the nest.  This team worked closely with the Graybeards on specifications and site preparation.  

The result of all this hard work is an educational installation that delights visitors of all ages.  This past spring, the Graybeards installed a platform so visitors can take photos of their family members or students inside the nest.

Staff finds that visitors have become are more aware of the presence of bald eagles along the river since the nest was installed.  Sometimes, lucky visitors will even spot an eagle as it soars over the nature center, making its way along the Boise River.  Not too many capital cities can say that they are home to our nation’s symbol.  


 

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