Gary Rotstein's The Morning File: Hays eagles in spotlight know the difficulties of good parenting

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If only the video camera monitoring the bald eagle nest in Hays included audio and interpretation of what the eagle parents were saying to one another. We might overhear something like this ...

Mom: Hon, I've got some new news about the eggs.

Dad: What's that?

Mom: We've got three of them now.

Dad: What?

Mom: You're not happy -- I knew it. I wasn't even going to tell you, but I thought you'd eventually count them yourself and figure it out anyway.

Dad: That's giving me more credit than you usually do. And it's not that I'm not happy -- it's wonderful news. I'm just worried how we're going to feed them all.

Mom: What, there's a fish shortage in Pittsburgh all of a sudden?

Dad: It's easy for you to make light of. You're not the one that needs to swoop over the river all day long searching for prey. When the wind chill's below zero, it's not as much fun as it looks.

Mom: Speaking of which, where were you the other night when that raccoon came around trying to steal the kids?

Dad: Oh, yeah, the raccoon -- I did see the camera replay of you chasing that devil away. Good job.

Mom: But shouldn't that be your job? Where were you?

Dad: Uh ... sleeping?

Mom: That's what I thought.

Dad: What, an eagle can't ever sleep? After spending all day chasing down a rabbit to bring you for dinner. You know how hard it is to catch a rabbit? They don't just stand there going, "Yoo-hoo, Mr. Eagle, here I am. I'll just stand here so you can swoop down and kill me and clutch me in your talons to take me home to Mama."

Mom: I'm not saying I don't appreciate that. It's just that this is a very sensitive time in the kids' development, and it might be good if you were home more than usual, especially now that we've got three of them to watch over.

Dad: But that's the nice thing about having three. We can lose one or two of them, for whatever reason, and we'll still have one. No problemo.

Mom: How can you even think such a thing! Those are my babies you're talking about.

Dad: I'm just being realistic. Nature's rough. Things happen. Nothing wrong with being prepared for that.

Mom: Sometimes I wonder why I ever picked you to mate with.

Dad: That's easy -- I give you hatchlings every year.

Mom: And you brought me to Pittsburgh, of all places. We never see other eagles. We've got no friends and never socialize. I should have listened to my mother and stayed away from you.

Dad: What are you complaining about -- you've got your own reality show here, on a live camera feed all day long. You're in the newspapers and on TV. You've never had so much attention in your life. You sit in a nest all day, and still you're a rock star. You think you'd have that if you were living in Lock Haven or Bellefonte?

Mom: Oh, maybe you're right. You know I'm not really myself during these hatchling periods. It puts a lot of stress on a mother eagle.

Dad: Yes, I know -- I see it every year.

Mom: Sorry. I think part of it is this weather. You couldn't have found a nesting spot any warmer for us?

Dad: It's cold everywhere this year. Don't blame Pittsburgh for that. Besides, we're supposed to go back to the same place every year -- it's in our nature.

Mom: Well, maybe yours, but I think it'd be nice to try Myrtle Beach one year, for a change.

Dad: Let's get through this year first. And you've got to be happy that you're living in a place with so many good qualities -- the rivers, parks, hillsides, friendly people ...

Mom: True -- no one's fired a shot at us. Crime seems low compared with most cities.

Dad: Right. I'm pretty sure Pittsburgh's going to be at the top of Raptor Magazine's Best Cities to Nest list this year.

Mom: Oh, I guess you're right. It's a great place to raise the kids. Of course, all three will be on their own before we know it.

Dad: If they make it -- and if they don't, well, that's a lot less time and effort we'll have to spend on their feeding and education.

Mom: Honey!

Gary Rotstein: or 412-263-1255.

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