North Park bald eagles suffer empty-nest syndrome |

North Park bald eagles suffer empty-nest syndrome

Mary Ann Thomas
Courtesy of Gina G. Gilmore
A pair of bald eagles on their nest in North Park earlier this year.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Bird watchers come to North Park to view the bald eagles nest because it offers closer views than other nests in the region.

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 .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.