Second eaglet hatching at Hays nest in Pittsburgh

Mary Ann Thomas
| Monday, March 21, 2016, 8:54 a.m.

The second of three eggs at the Hays bald eagle nest began hatching Tuesday morning.

Officials at PixController, the Murrysville company that supplies the live cameras at the nest, confirmed a “pip” in the second egg shortly after 8 a.m.

A pip is the hole chiseled by the chick with a special tooth on its beak to break through the egg. It's a process that can take up to 24 hours.

The first bald eaglet of the season reared its fuzzy head and sat up for feedings at the Pittsburgh Hays nest after hatching early Monday.

This is the fifth eaglet in four nesting seasons for the Hays couple, the first bald eagles to nest within the city limits in at least 150 years.

Last year, the Hays eagles and a pair in Harmar lost their eggs, likely due to severe cold weather and the young couples' inexperience, according to the Audubon Society.

Live webcams on the Hays and Harmar couples document the parents' round-the-clock incubating of their clutch and every pip of the egg.

PixController broke viewership records Sunday, recording more than 4,500 viewers at once waiting for the Hays hatch.

Eagles and other predator species nest early in the spring “when there is food available when their chicks need it the most,” said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

Although eagles feed mainly on fish, mammals and birds are plentiful in the spring, supplementing their diet, Bonner said.

More hatches are expected at nests in Allegheny County in the next several weeks, including one on private property in Crescent and the nest in Harmar, which is in the spotlight with a new webcam this year.

Making the news was a hatch of two eggs over the weekend at a bald eagle nest at the National Arboretum in Washington. That pair is the first to nest at the arboretum since 1947.

Once endangered, bald eagles are on the rebound. Eagle nests in the commonwealth hit an all-time high with 277 documented in mid-2015, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The iconic raptors nest in at least 58 of the state's 67 counties, according to the commission.

The bald eagle population is poised to take off in Western Pennsylvania in the coming years, according to Patricia Barber, endangered bird biologist with the commission.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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