Eagle fever soars in Alle-Kiski Valley
Small crowds are amassing along Freeport Road in Harmar to watch two bald eagles soaring above Route 28 as they carry branches to a nest and fend off red-tailed hawks.
After a decades-long absence, the Harmar eagles are one of three pairs that are nesting along one of the three rivers in Allegheny County.
The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania guided about 200 eager eagle watchers to a roadside viewing area along Freeport Road in Harmar during the weekend.
Harmar police received a couple of calls about the crowds, but there have been no traffic problems so far, according to Harmar police Chief Jason Domaratz.
Jan Bonder, who saw her first bald eagle in Alaska 15 years ago, stopped to watch the Harmar birds on Monday.
“It was exciting to be down there and sharing that joy with everyone,” said Bonder, who owns The Songbird Sanctuary, a backyard bird-feeding and nature store in Blawnox.
Bonder sallied up with her camera with a telephoto lens to view and photograph the birds as they continued to build their nest along a wooded ridge above Route 28 and tangle with a red-tailed hawk. According to local wildlife experts, the nest was built and used by red-tailed hawks last year, and the eagles have taken it over and enlarged it.
“We got to see a red-tailed hawk approach the nest and cause a bit of a fuss,” Bonder said. “The eagle that was in the nest maintained its position, and the hawk eventually flew off.”
It's these kinds of scenes, and the promise of a view of one of the eagles flying overhead to fish in the Allegheny River that draw long-time birders and first-time eagle watchers alike.
“If you're like me and grew up in Allegheny County, I would never have dreamed that eagles would be so close to home,” said Tom Fazi, information and education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission Southwest Region near Ligonier.
“People are thrilled,” said Jim Bonner, a Tarentum resident and executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
Bonner set up two scopes and brought eight pair of binoculars to an empty parking lot off Freeport Road last weekend and offered up views of the birds to the public.
“There is almost a sense of ownership and pride,” he said. “It just makes people feel good that the eagles are here, that they are in our backyard.”
This eagle fever is not lost on the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Audubon Society. Both organizations are looking into erecting signs providing more information about the birds.
“We're trying to make people aware and be sensitive to the eagles' needs,” said Bonner. “We want people to be respectful and try not to intrude on them.”
Also, Bonner and game officials stress that the successful nesting of the birds – that is rearing young birds – rarely happens during the first year that an eagle pair builds a nest.
“And this is their first year,” Bonner said.
Audubon and game officials believe that one of the birds, which still has some brown mottling on its white plumage, is between 3 and 4 years old while the mate is at least 5 years old.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Washington Township supervisors grant exception to put apartments on property
- Public can learn about Narcan use during training in New Kensington
- Heating oil costs lowest in years
- South Butler teachers’ union rejects recommendations for new contract
- South Butler substitute nurse reveals staffing ‘crisis’
- Steps taken to move forward on 29-mile Allegheny River trail
- Charges likely against 2 children in Allegheny Township park vandalism
- Experts calling for late fall foliage bloom in Southwestern Pa.
- Tarentum Eagles event aims to help the hungry
- ‘Restaurant: Impossible’ tackles New Kensington eatery