About Bald Eagles
The Bald Eagle is the national emblem of the Unites States and has long been a spiritual symbol for Native Americans. Its name is derived from the white feathered head that contrasts with its brown body and wings. The adult white head and tail plumage does not fully emerge until about 5 years of age. Juveniles have mostly brown heads and tails along with brown body and wings that may also be mottled with white.
The Bald Eagle can often be identified by its size alone as it dwarfs many of the other birds of prey found in our County. They have a heavy body, large head and hooked bill. In flight, they typically hold their broad wings very flat, and you will most often find these regal raptors soaring, hunting, or scavenging along the St. Johns River or Intracoastal Waterway.
Nesting & Habitat Management
Bald Eagle nesting season is officially from October 1st through May 15th in the Southeastern United States each year. These dates may vary depending on nesting activities at specific nest sites. There are around 35 active known nests in St. Johns County, with most located along the St. Johns River and Intracoastal Waterway. The areas where eagles tend to nest can range from the middle of public conservation lands where there is little to no human activities to right in the middle of existing residential subdivisions.
St. Johns County Rules
Section 4.01.10 Bald Eagle Management
The County routinely checks on the status of known Bald Eagle nests and attempts to find new nests annually and whenever development is impending in a certain area near a known active nest. Depending on the type of development, different zones are established around known nest trees in order to reduce the chance the nesting bald eagle is startled. If an adult, immature or fledging eagle is disturbed by noises or presence of humans near its nest, then the chance the nesting pair is successful declines significantly.
The County has developed specific regulations to protect and enhance bald eagle habitat, and the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service encourages the continued use of such tools that benefit bald eagles. The County has rules for the protection of the Bald Eagle, establishing a 750-foot Primary Zone and 1500-foot Secondary Zone, out from the Nest Tree. These zones may differ, depending on certain site conditions and proposed development plans.
Bald Eagle Quick Reference
Protecting Nesting Areas
To avoid a potential violation of state, federal and local eagle laws, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and St. Johns County may need to be contacted prior to commencement of any exterior construction or activity disturbing to the bald eagle within 1500 feet of a bald eagle’s nest tree. Please consult the state and federal bald eagle management guidelines listed below for guidance. Additionally, please consult bald eagle requirements within Section 4.01.10 of the St. Johns County Land Development Code.
- St. Johns County Bald Eagle Nest Map
- Bald Eagle Information – FWC
- Florida Fish and Wildlife General Info