It’s lift-off for Pittsburgh Hays bald eaglet No. 9 | TribLIVE.com
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Mary Ann Thomas

It’s the season for well-fed eaglets to leave the nest and learn to fly under the tutelage of their parents, and one of two young bald eagles in the Pittsburgh Hays nest apparently cleared for take-off Tuesday.

Robert Bevan of Pittsburgh’s Lincoln Place captured a photo of one of the first flights of the eaglet known as “H9.” It’s the ninth eaglet hatched since 2013 by the pair of pioneering bald eagles that are first eagles to breed within Pittsburgh’s city limits in more than 150 years.

H9 was last seen just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on the live web cam sponsored by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP) and CSE Corp of Murrysville.

It doesn’t take much for the brown-and-white bird to get lost in the leafiness of the hillside. Bald eagles don’t acquire their signature white head and tail until they are about 5 years old.

After H9 left the nest, the female adult eagle caught two fish, one each in separate trips to the Monongahela River far below the nest. It flew around the nest area with the fish in her talons before delivering the meal to the lone eaglet at the nest, according to a longtime observer on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail known as “Eaglestreamer.”

Bevan was on the trail with others and watched the mother eagle land on the hillside to the left of nest. Then, the male circled the area and landed near the same spot on the hillside about 8:20 p.m.

“Soon after, H9 came out and flew a large circle and then landed higher on the hill,” Bevan said.

Audubon received reports Tuesday and Wednesday from observers on the ground that H9 is doing well and that the parents continue to attend both of their young, according to Jim Bonner, ASWP executive director.

He expects the second and last eaglet in the nest, H10, to take its maiden flight within the next few days.

“Both birds will return to the nest for feeding until they are able to successfully hunt for themselves,” he said.

Web cam watchers can expect to see the young and parent birds spending time at the nest periodically for the next two weeks, according to Bill Powers, director of engineering for CSE Corp.

Then the parent birds will be seen in the fall making “nestorations” preparing for another season, Powers said.

However, the summer is a dangerous time for young eagles that strike out on their own.

“It is one of the most dangerous times in a young bird’s life,” Bonner said.

“No bird knows how to fly until they try it for the first time, and it is not unusual for them to have trouble landing, navigating, or getting back aloft.”

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