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First Pittsburgh bald eagle egg hatches

| Friday, March 28, 2014, 5:34 p.m.
James Knox | Tribune-Review
A bald eagle flies near its nest filled with three eagle eggs on Friday, March 28, 2014, in the trees above East Carson Street in Hays. The first egg hatched about 2:30 p.m. Friday.

And baby makes three ... for now.

The first of three eggs laid by the bald eagles nesting in Pittsburgh began to hatch on Friday afternoon.

The eaglet was first seen about 2:30 p.m. when a parent bird moved aside briefly and provided an unobstructed view of the squirming, fuzzy little newborn, according to Bill Powers, president and CEO of PixController.

The Murrysville-based company joined with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to provide a live web camera on the nest in the city's Hays neighborhood. The camera can be viewed around-the-clock at triblive.com/news/projects/pittsburgheagle.

Eagle fans far and wide have anxiously awaited the emergence of the eaglet since Wednesday, the earliest day experts believed the first egg could hatch.

The first egg this nesting season was laid on Feb. 19. The second egg appeared on Feb. 22, and the third and final egg was laid on Feb. 25.

Bald eagle eggs are incubated continuously for an average of 35 days before they hatch.

The new eaglet, exhausted from hours of chipping its way from the egg, likely won't eat much in the first 24 hours, according to Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

But the parents will start feeding the chick as soon as it's ready, he said.

“The parents will stay on the eggs and chick both, incubating the remaining eggs and helping to warm the chick, which can't thermoregulate itself yet,” Bonner said.

Patricia Barber, an endangered birds biologist with the game commission, said adult eagles are not sitting on the eggs or the chick directly.

“Whoever is incubating does not really have its weight on the eggs,” she said. “The adult bird is still holding the vast majority of its weight on its legs.”

The hatch boosted viewership of the eagle camera to an all-time high of more than 13,000 individual watchers at one time Friday afternoon, according to Powers.

Although this is the first year with a camera focused on the nest, it's the second year this pair of bald eagles has made Hays its home. They raised one eaglet that fledged last summer.

Liz Hayes and Mary Ann Thomas are staff writers for Trib Total Media.

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