A male eagle circles on Monday over the area where a windstorm blew over its nest and tree the previous night in the Hays section of Pittsburgh.
By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Their nest was destroyed during a windstorm Sunday night, but the Hays bald eagles appear to be rebuilding in a nearby sycamore tree.
Eagle watchers on the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail have seen the birds carrying sticks to the steep hillside overlooking the Monongahela River.
“Reports from the trail are that some pretty big sticks are being moved in,” said Rachel Handel, spokeswoman for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “That would signal nest-building has started.”
The new location is within the view of the live-feed wildlife camera that has turned the Pittsburgh pair into a global phenomenon. Ms. Handel said news of the nest’s destruction was reported as far away as the United Kingdom, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Facing the hillside from the bike trail, the sycamore tree is a couple of hundred yards to the right of the old nest.
“It’s a tree where dad used to roost when mom was incubating an egg, so it makes sense why they’d choose that tree,” said Bill Powers, president of the PixController security camera company in Murrysville that donated and maintains the camera that has been trained on the nest. The new site Mr. Powers said, is “within the camera’s view but farther away and there are many obstructions.”
Mr. Powers said it is unlikely the state Game Commission would sanction relocating the camera while the birds are engaged in nest building.
“We wouldn’t want that, anyway,” said Ms. Handel. “Nest building is a bonding experience for eagles. It gets the hormones going that leads to breeding and laying eggs.”
Although breeding occurred about a week earlier than last year, and another pair of balk eagles in Harmar have yet to lay an egg, Ms. Handel stressed that it is unlikely the Hays pair will lay a second clutch.
“We’d call it an outside chance,” she said. “The nest rebuilding activity may extend or reactivate the female’s fertility period. The actual incubation and fledging only takes about three or four months. The birds could theoretically lay eggs in May and still have enough time to get the young out of the nest and area before they begin preparations for next year’s season.”
Bald eagle nests can weigh up to a ton and often are built in trees clinging to precipices. Collapse of a nest, or, as in this case, collapse of the entire tree, is common, said Ms. Handel.
In 2013, the Hays eagles’ first nest, built on the same hillside, partially collapsed during the fledging of a single eaglet. Ms. Handel said the sycamore the pair have chosen for their new home has a wide fork in its trunk, making the weaving of sticks difficult.
John Hayes: 412-263-1991, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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