Hays bald eagle chick fed fish snagged with hooks and fishing line
The problem of litter was exemplified Saturday when one of the Hays bald eagles brought a fish snagged with multiple hooks and fishing line and fed it to one of its two eaglets.
It’s unclear if the one of the young birds swallowed a hook, according to Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
If the one of the birds ingested the hook, its prognosis is not good, according to Bonner.
“It’s a cautionary tale for debris left such as fishing line,” Bonner said.
The Audubon Society has been identifying and placing fishing line recycling tubes along waterways, including one not too far from the Hays nest in Duck Hollow area of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
Fishing lines that entangle wildlife not only kills but causes slow, agonizing deaths.
The two Hays eagle chicks known as H9 and H10 are about a month old. They are the 9th and 10th chicks raised by Hays pair without incident so far over seven years on the same hillside above the Monongahela River.
Both eaglets seemed to be in good health later in the day Saturday, but Audubon and others will continue to monitor the birds and their nest.
As is usual on nice Saturday mornings, photographers and eagle watchers were assembled on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail across from the nest snapping photos of the parent birds taking trips to and from the river and back to the nest, often delivering a fish breakfast to their offspring.
Dan Dasynich, of Lincoln Place, Pittsburgh, knew it was not good when he noticed something trailing behind a fish, which the Hays female eagle caught about 9:45 a.m.
He aimed his camera with a zoom lens.
“I noticed it was fishing line that led to the fish’s mouth, and it was a good eight-foot long piece of line knotted up with debris tangled in it.”
Taking it to the nest to feed to the young birds, he said he and the others on the trail knew that such an unfortunate incident was bound to happen.
The webcam documented one of the eagles feeding a chunk of fish to one of the eaglets where the hook was clearly visible, according to Bonner.
“But it looks like it was swallowing it, brought it back up, then bowed its head,” he said.
It’s unclear if bird totally swallowed it or brought it back up.
Closer analysis showed that there were two hooks in the fish, and perhaps a third , according to Bonner.
One clip shows an eaglet holding an object in its beak that could have been the hook, and it put back down.
Closer inspection of the video will be necessary to determine more details, according to Bonner. Audubon will continue to monitor.
There are no plans to intervene at the nest, he said.
“That is not our call,” Bonner said.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over handling wildlife and they typically don’t intervene with disturbing wildlife during breeding.
The incident hit Dasynich hit hard because he said, “fishing is my religion.”
“I collect my line,” he said. “I don’t use lead.
“It’s all about conservation.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .