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First Hays eaglet fledges the nest

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 5:17 p.m.
Courtesy of Dana Nesiti
The first bald eaglet to fledge from the nest in the Hays section of Pittsburgh continues to fly nearby on Friday, June 20, 2014.
Courtesy of Dana Nesiti
The first bald eaglet to fledge from the nest in the Hays section of Pittsburgh takes its maiden flight on Friday, June 20, 2014.
Courtesy of PixController
All three Pittsburgh bald eaglets are together in the nest for the last time on Friday morning, June 20, 2014. The eaglet on the branch just above the nest jumped higher into the tree about 10:14 a.m. and never returned to the nest. Birdwatchers say it fledged shortly afterward.

The eaglet has landed: One of three bald eaglets nesting above the Monongahela River in Hays fledged sometime on Friday, according to several nest observers.

The live web camera that's been trained on the nest since winter showed one of the eaglets flying from the nest to branches higher in the tree about 10:14 a.m. The bird never returns to the camera's view.

“They've confirmed it on the ground,” said Bill Powers, president and chief executive officer of PixController, a Murrysville-based company that installed the camera in December in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The remaining two eagles in the nest could fledge in the next few days, according to officials from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Powers said birders who watch the nest from a nearby trail saw the mother eagle feeding the fledgling on the ground on Friday afternoon.

Because of heavy foliage on the tree and the relatively narrow scope of the web camera, it was difficult to pinpoint precisely when the eaglet flew the coop.

Dana Nesiti, a photographer from West Homestead, said the young bird flew along the ridge toward the city of Pittsburgh and was perched in a tree about 200 yards from the nest.

One of the parent eagles perched above the juvenile and circled above it, he said.

The two remaining eaglets continue to flap their wings and fly-hop to nearby branches, as they prepare to fledge.

Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, said the adults will continue to look out for the fledgling.

“If you want to find the eaglet, look for the parents because the parents will be tending to the eaglet,” he said. “This is a very vulnerable time for the eaglet as it takes its first flight and is not very good at landing yet.”

Powers said they believe the fledgling is actually the second eaglet that hatched, not the first.

Brian Shema, director of conservation for the Audubon Society, said the bird that fledged is a male, as the males will leave the nest before the juvenile females.

The newly fledged bird could visit the nest again if his siblings are still there, according to Shema.

“If the other two don't fledge in the course of the next couple of days, I wouldn't be surprised to see that first eagle return because there is food there.”

The adult eagle pair, in their second nesting season in the city's Hays neighborhood, laid their first egg of the year on Feb. 19. The second egg — the suspected fledgling — was laid on Feb. 22. The third egg appeared on Feb. 25.

The adult pair are believed to be the first bald eagles to nest in Pittsburgh in at least 150 years.

“This is a great story for the city of Pittsburgh,” Powers said.

He's thrilled all three eaglets have made it to this point.

“It's amazing we've had a successful nesting season,” Powers said. “I'm glad nothing bad happened.”

Liz Hayes and Mary Ann Thomas are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Hayes can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com. Thomas can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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