Bald eagles lay egg in Hays nest

The eagle has landed.

At 4:45 p.m. today, a pair of bald eagles' first egg of the year was laid on a bluff overlooking the Monongahela River in the Hays section of Pittsburgh.

“I’m smokin’ a cigar,” said National Aviary ornithologist Bob Mulvihill, shortly after the egg was laid.

The parents, who fledged one eaglet in 2013, can be viewed fussing over the egg via a recently installed live wildlife camera. In recent days, said Mr. Mulvihill, the birds were clearly seen tidying the soft inner nest and caching small food items — often signs of impending birth.

“I got some of my coworkers around the screen and we watched it drop,” he said.

Since the collapse of last year’s nest, the pair rebuilt a bigger, sturdier nest nearby. This is the 51⁄2-year-old female’s second successful attempt at laying a clutch.

Eagle eggs are slightly larger and more round than chicken eggs. They are off-white and unmarked. Incubation lasts for 35 days. The egg is expected to hatch March 26.

“She’s almost certain to lay a second egg,” said Mr. Mulvihill.

One egg survived last year, but bald eagles generally lay two to three eggs per clutch.

The female is expected to lay another egg in two to three days.

Bald eagles mate for life. The female, slightly larger than the male, will spend much of the next four weeks incubating the egg, but is expected to leave the nest occasionally.

The camera provides a live view of the nest with audio and night vision. Live video can be viewed for free by the public. It was recently installed at no cost to the state by PixController, a Murrysville security technology company, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and communication and technology companies.

John Hayes: 412-263-1991 or First Published February 19, 2014 6:13 PM

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