Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Eaglets confirmed in Hays, Harmar nests

- By John Hayes

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Fuzzy little heads peeked over the nest bowls Thursday at the Hays and Harmar bald eagle nesting sites, confirming the number of eaglets growing in each nest.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvan­ia affirmed through still photograph­s and video that one eaglet is alive in the Hays nest and two are at Harmar.

“From the Hays video, we can confirm now there is one healthy eaglet in the nest, which is exciting considerin­g what the adult birds have dealt with this year,” said Audubon spokeswoma­n Rachel Handel. “We had suspected two eaglets in Harmar. Today we saw very clearly there are two eaglets in the nest. The video shows one standing up to the right of the adult; the other is being fed by a parent.”

The Hays video was not taped by the PixControl­ler camera that has live-streamed the five-year saga of the pair of eagles. It was shot by an amateur eagle watcher on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail, across Route 837 from the nest, and sent to Audubon.

Ms. Handel said the Hays adults are nothing if not “resilient.” After their original nest collapsed during fledging in 2013, they returned to the same hillside early the next nesting period and built a bigger, nest that held until a February windstorm blew down the tree. The eagles built a new nest barely within camera range, but new foliage completely obscures the view.

“The first egg was in the nest when the tree fell, and we believe the female had more eggs in her body ready to be laid,” Ms. Handel said. “We think she laid a second egg on the ground, which was inviable, and the egg that hatched was part of the original clutch, laid in the hastily made nest.”

The Hays eaglet hatched March 29. If it survives, it will be the sixth fledged by these parents.

Audubon’s camera in Harmar doesn’t provide a view inside the nest. Based on observatio­ns of the adults exhibiting feeding behaviors, staff suspected eggs had hatched April 5 and April 7. On Thursday, the camera showed eaglet heads bobbing above the nest rim. To date, the Harmar pair have fledged three eaglets.

Allegheny County has at least four bald eagle nests. The reproducti­ve status of nests near Crescent and Glassport is undetermin­ed.

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