COLLEGE CORNER — Hueston Woods State Park has a new eagle nest display at its nature center. The display is meant to show the actual size of a bald eagle’s nest and has become a photo opportunity for park staff and visitors alike.
The nest was donated by Hueston Woods Visitors Bureau and was built entirely by the Cincinnati Museum Center.
The Museum Center designed the nest with input from Hueston Woods Naturalist Shawn Conner. He wanted the nest to look “as real as possible” when tourists were taking photos. He added that “obviously, we wanted it to be safe enough for people to be able to climb in and out of it and be durable enough that people can climb in and out of it and have it not take too much abuse.”
Conner explained, a common question posed to park staff is the size of an eagles nest, so they saw this as an opportunity to answer said question.
He said, “It was something else for people to see and do at the Nature Center. We always try to add new things from time to time, and to change things up and it was something new.”
He brought up the idea to the Visitors Bureau last year and over time they decided to reach out to the Museum Center to design the project.
There have been many local eagle sightings lately, and Conner admitted that was motivation for the project. He said, “We’ve had eagles nesting on the lake for six years and that certainly got the idea in our heads. A lot of people do ask about those eagles. You can’t really get to or see the real eagle nest, so we thought of this as a good replacement for people to see.”
At this point, there are no plaques around the nest, but it is housed at the Nature Center, which is the home of an actual bald eagle. They do plan to get “better signage” around the nest in the future.
The constructed eagle nest is similar to the size of one found in the wild. It is the “typical size” of a natural eagle nest, at six feet wide by three feet tall. Conner added, “not all eagle nests are that big, but some can be much larger.”
The nest is meant to be a tourist attraction. It is built to be able to hold people climbing in and out of it. It is reinforced with a steel frame, but has natural branches woven into it. It looks much like a real nest, but is significantly sturdier.
The inside of the nest is built differently than a real nest, according to Conner. There is a cargo net with mesh material over it to make it easier for visitors to sit inside it and maneuver around. The real nest would only be sticks and natural materials.
This is only an educational photo opportunity — the park does not want or expect any real eagles to nest in the constructed nest, Conner said.
Hueston Woods shared pictures of the nest on their Facebook page and the reaction to the new attraction has been positive. Conner admitted, there was some confusion regarding the nest. “The only real negative comments I saw at all were people who didn’t understand that it was a fake nest and thought we had taken an eagle nest out of a tree somewhere,” he said. “Once we explained that to them, they were fine with it as well.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061