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Bald eagle makes its first flight at 11 weeks

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Monday, July 1, 2013, 11:56 p.m.

The first bald eagle believed to be born in Pittsburgh in more than 200 years took its first flight from the nest area in the Hays section this weekend, according to watchers and a local scientist.

“The fact that the eagle has survived to be 11 weeks old and is capable of flying on its own — it's a big corner for it to turn in terms of survival,” said Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist for the National Aviary on the North Side.

About half of the nest departures for bald eagles are not successful, he said.

And there was concern about the new eaglet.

For the past three weeks, the eaglet has been living in a dense tangle of vines about 15 feet below the nest, which is believed to have partially collapsed, or at least slid.

Nonetheless, both parent eagles continued to bring fish and small animals to their youngster.

Last week, the young bird hadn't been seen in four days, and local watchers were afraid that something bad had happened to it.

But on Saturday, the eaglet made an appearance and took its first flight, much to the relief of area residents and scientists who have been watching the eagle family since the spring.

According to Mulvihill, the Hays eagles won't be tethered to the nest, as the free-flying eaglet is expected to soon follow its parents when they go hunting.

As a group, the eagle family is likely to leave the nest area by mid-August, when other eagles start to migrate. The adult birds are expected to return to the Hays nest site in late January and February.

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