ShareThis Page
Valley News Dispatch

Already? Pittsburgh Hays eagles have a new egg

Mary Ann Thomas
| Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, 3:48 p.m.
Eagle watchers line up along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood for a glimpse of the nesting bald eagles on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. From the eagles' behavior, it appears they have an egg in their new nest.
Mary Ann Thomas | Tribune-Review
Eagle watchers line up along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood for a glimpse of the nesting bald eagles on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. From the eagles' behavior, it appears they have an egg in their new nest.

Update —

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania on Monday confirmed that the Hays bald eagles have an egg.

Rachel Handel of Audubon said observers cannot see inside the eagles' new nest but are convinced the pair are sitting on an egg because of their behavior, including that the birds have not left the nest unattended for more than 24 hours and the birds appear to be turning an egg while in the nest.

Bald eagle watchers in Pittsburgh's Hays neighborhood suspect the formerly homeless raptors have a new egg in a new nest.

After a windstorm toppled their nest tree only a week ago, with the birds losing their first egg of the season, the pair started to build a new nest near their old one Wednesday on a hill overlooking the Monongahela River.

Starting early Sunday morning, observers watched the birds taking turns laying in the nest continuously throughout the day.

“It's a good sign that there's an egg but it may be a little early to call it definitively,” said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Pennsylvania.

“This pair is a tremendously resilient and determined pair,” he said. “This is their third nest, obviously they like the area.”

If the birds are still at the nest continuously, laying down as they would if they were incubating an egg on Monday, then there is probably an egg, Bonner said.

“It's certainly physically possible she laid an egg and she has the physical ability to lay another fertile egg,” Bonner said.

It takes 35 days of incubation before a hatch.

Monitoring the eagles' behavior from the ground is the only way to verify nesting, a method researchers relied on when monitoring the nesting of bald eagles when they were endangered.

“That's how we knew the Harmar birds had eggs in their nest before we set up a webcam on their nest last year,” Bonner said.

Those eagles, who are in their fourth year of nesting, are expected to lay their first egg in the next week or two.

Sunday's warm weather turned out a gaggle of eagle watchers in Hays who were not disappointed with the spectacular views of the birds taking turns leaving the nest against a clear blue sky.

“They are truly magnificent to see fly,” said Nancy Miller, 61, of Altoona, a native of Monroeville who visited the Hays site Sunday.

“I had to come and see their new nest,” she said. “I drove 100 miles and it was worth it.”

Throughout the day, at least 30 people were lined up with binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, watching the birds.

They included Bill Powers, CEO of PixController, the Murrysville company that set up webcams at the eagle nests in Hays and Harmar.

Unfortunately, since the eagles are in a new nest, they cannot be seen from the existing webcam there and the camera cannot be moved, according to Powers. Federal regulations prohibit disturbance around nesting bald eagles.

However, Powers hopes to set up a new webcam in Hays next season before nesting begins.

The Hays birds, in the fifth nesting season, are the first pair of bald eagles to nest within the city limits in more than 150 years.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691 or

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.

click me