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Valley News Dispatch

New web cams promise sharper views of Pittsburgh-area eagles

Mary Ann Thomas
| Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, 10:18 p.m.
One of the young Harmar bald eagles was photographed last summer flying along the cliff over Route 28 near its nesting site.
Courtesy of Annette Devinney
One of the young Harmar bald eagles was photographed last summer flying along the cliff over Route 28 near its nesting site.
Rob Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service of Indiana Township installs a new web camera near the Harmar bald eagle nest on a hillside high above Route 28.
Courtesy of Brian Shema
Rob Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service of Indiana Township installs a new web camera near the Harmar bald eagle nest on a hillside high above Route 28.

Cue the eagles for their close-up.

New webcams were installed at the bald eagle nests in Harmar and Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood Thursday and Friday, promising better views for the 2017 nesting season.

The Hays couple, the first bald eagles to nest within the city limits of Pittsburgh in more than 150 years, will soon be in their fifth year of nesting on a bluff above the Monongahela River.

The Harmar eagles will be in their fourth year of nesting at another aerie on a bluff overlooking Route 28 and the Allegheny River.

Live webcams have captured every turn of the eggs, every family meal — no matter how grisly — intruders such as a raccoon and other eagles, and the successful first flights of the juveniles.

Both cameras will go live sometime this week.

But don't expect much action right away, as the birds only occasionally will visit the nests. They court this month and are expected to lay eggs in late February and early March.

The webcams were made possible through the coordination of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, PixController of Murrysville and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

This year, Audubon bought a new camera for the Harmar site, offering improved views inside their nest.

“We'll be able to zoom in better that last year,” said Brian Shema, director of conservation for Audubon.

While the Harmar cam will provide a tighter field of view, the Hays cam will have “a much better quality stream because of upgrades,” said Bill Powers, president of PixController. Also new this year, Harmar will have night vision at the nest.

The view of the Harmar nest seems further away than the Hays nest because the camera is 250 feet away from the nest. The birds are in a towering sycamore, where it's difficult to find a camera mount high enough to peer into the nest.

Arborel Tree Service of Indiana Township installed the camera in Harmar, and Shema expects the company will “open the doors for us for greater improvement in camera positions in the future.”

Comcast is donating and providing the bandwidth to stream the Harmar nest this year.

Audubon bought the patch of hillside where the Harmar eagles nest is located. The nonprofit has raised $16,000 out of the $35,000 they need for the project, according to Rachel Handel, communications director for Audubon.

“There was always a chance of development near the nest,” she said. “The purchase enables us to preserve the land so the eagles can nest there unhindered.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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