North Park bald eagles suffer empty-nest syndrome
The bald eagles at North Park, likely the first pair to nest in an Allegheny County park, didn’t produce any young this season, wildlife officials said.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission confirmed recently there are no chicks in the nest.
“There have been sightings of both parent birds leaving the nest,” said Dan Puhala, a Pennsylvania game warden. “If they were tending to eggs or young, they wouldn’t do that.”
Puhala and others said they are optimistic for another nesting attempt next year.
The birds still are hanging out in the park and nest area near the ice skating rink and are expected to stay in the area through winter, although they might leave for a short period if the waterways freeze, Puhala said.
The interest in the eagles has been so great with park rangers, naturalists, amateur photographers, birdwatchers and the general public that there has been almost constant monitoring of the birds from the park’s North Dakota shelter.
A Facebook group was dedicated the birds, North Park Bald Eagles.
Allegheny County Parks dedicated the shelter, at Pearce Mill and Brown roads, for eagle observations, offering inexpensive binoculars, programs and literature on the birds. The county also shut down some trails close to the nest.
In fact, it was members of the public who alerted authorities when a few people got too close to the nest tree, causing county police to ask the intruders to leave, according to Braden Meiter, lead supervisory park ranger for the parks department.
“The community was very on top of it,” Meiter said. “It was an example of good community policing of the natural resources there.”
No one was cited in that instance but the county took an aggressive preventative stand against any intrusions to the nest, including a fine of up to $1,500. It is against the law to disturb nesting bald eagles.
It also was birdwatchers who reported that the eagle couple, at some point, stopped their round-the-clock presence at the nest, indicating there were no young to care for, according to Meiter.
Without the benefit of a live webcam such as the one at the Pittsburgh Hays eagle nest, biologists rely on behavior to confirm nesting. If there are eggs, both parent eagles will incubate them nonstop for about 35 days before they hatch.
Nesting success or not, the presence of the eagles caused excitement. The viewing area at North Dakota shelter, located in a not-so-busy part of the park, made it easy for people to see the birds.
“It was very fortuitous that the eagles made a nest there,” said Kevin Evanto, an Allegheny County Parks spokesman.
The view of the birds at the North Park site is closer for the public than sites currently for the Pittsburgh Hays and Harmar nests.
“The bald eagles are a source of pride,” Evanto said.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .