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Audubon Society confirms first hatching at Harmar nest

| Thursday, April 10, 2014, 4:16 p.m.
ANNETTE DEVINNEY
One of the Harmar eagles is shown tending the nest recently.
Submitted by Annette Devinney

Harmar has an eaglet, too.

The hatching of a bald eaglet on the bluff above Route 28 has been confirmed by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Although not equipped with a live web cam such as the eagle nest in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood, birdwatchers have been carefully watching the Harmar nest for signs of behavior indicating that the parent birds are brooding and feeding at least one eaglet.

Audubon estimates that the hatch occurred Thursday, which is when they documented a feeding.

Last year, the Harmar pair's attempt at breeding was unsuccessful. Sparring with a pair of red-tailed hawks that, rightfully so, wanted their nest back, the young pair of eagles courted and then took over the hawk's aerie on the bluff above Route 28 near the Hulton Bridge.

The Audubon Society said the eagle couple was enthusiastic, but likely too young to nest then.

Earlier this year, the birds were spotted copulating and hanging out at the same nest.

Volunteer monitors have been keeping a watchful eye on the Harmar nest as the eagle couple has been incubating eggs — indicated by at least one of the birds sitting in the nest round the clock for about 35 days, the amount of time it takes for an eagle egg to hatch.

Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, reported Thursday: “The female Bald Eagle was observed repeatedly tugging at something in the bottom of the nest, then leaning over in an adjacent spot. One of those times what appeared to be a piece of food was seen in her beak. It disappeared when her beak came back up. This indicates that she was feeding an eaglet.”

The Audubon Society, as well as a number of local birders and photographers, will be closely following the nest to further document how many young hatched and how many will survive to fledge this summer.

Within three to four weeks, Bonner said, the total number of eaglets in the nest will be apparent as they grow large enough to be seen above the nest top.

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