Memorial springs up in Hays for eagle eggs that didn’t hatch
Fans who had viewed activity at nest via wildlife video camera leave flowers, letters
March 31, 2015 12:00 AM
A small memorial has sprung up along a bike trail in Hays after eagle eggs failed to hatch.
Robert Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary, uses binoculars to get a closer look at the eagles’ nest in Hays as he stands near the memorial for the birds and their lost eggs. Mr. Mulvihill said the eagles are able to lay eggs for 20 years.
One of the Hays bald eagles looks at the two eggs, one of them cracked, in the nest.
By Mahita Gajanan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Roses and hand-written notes adorn a fence in Hays, commemorating two eagle eggs that failed to hatch this spring.
The first broken egg was pushed out of the nest March 14, and the Western Pennsylvania Audubon Society confirmed that the second of two eggs laid last month was no longer viable March 27. Both eggs were expected to hatch late last week.
The loss of the eggs prompted support from people who have kept track of the pair of eagles for the past two years. Last year, the 6 1/2 year-old female laid three eggs, and all survived and fledged. The eagles attracted a large fan base in Pittsburgh and beyond, as followers watched a video feed from a wildlife camera mounted near the nest. The camera system, donated by the Murrysville-based PixController security camera company, has monitored the eagle nest for two years.
People remember the Hays bald eagles
A monument has sprung up along the trail in Hays where the bald eagle eggs failed to hatch. (Video by Darrell Sapp; 3/31/2015)
Real and fake roses wound through the fence along a bike trail near the nest surrounding a large card reading, “Next year, Mom and Dad. We love you!”
Below, a stick poked out of the fence, with a long letter attached to it, as a symbol of something the eagle parents could add to their nest. “May it comfort both of you and strengthen your nest,” read the letter.
Mary Walczak, of Dravosburg, stopped by the memorial to catch a glimpse of the eagles, but the pair was away from the nest. She’d grown attached to the eagles over the past two years, and said it was especially heartwarming to see the three eaglets grow last year.
The loss of the two eggs this year was a “little upsetting” to Ms. Walczak, but she conceded it was the way of nature. She said people have been mourning the eggs because they have come to expect something new and successful from the eggs every year.
The presence of the wildlife camera built this expectation. The camera connected people to nature in a new way and allowed them to build an emotional connection to the eagles, said Rachel Handel, Western Pennsylvania Audubon Society spokeswoman. Watching the three eaglets hatch and grow last year helped people understand deeply the eagles’ parental instincts, and drove them to expect similar outcomes in subsequent years.
But there will be no eaglets this year.
“It proves that nature doesn't play by human rules,” said Ms. Handel.
The eagles’ future is still in question for the Audubon Society. Because the live camera was installed only recently, and has not yet monitored any loss in the nest, Ms. Handel said she doesn't know know if the pair will stay in the area as they have in the past few years.
Correction, posted March 31, 2015: An earlier version incorrectly identified Robert Mulvihill’s occupation in a photo caption.
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