Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bald Eagles Make New Hays Home Urban Birds Build Nest Overlooking River

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bald Eagles Make New Hays Home Urban Birds Build Nest Overlooking River

Article excerpt

The old adage about the early bird getting the worm didn't take into account the advantages of early avian home renovation.

The urban bald eagle couple that earlier this year caused a stir - - successfully fledging a chick in clear view of passers-by within Pittsburgh city limits on a hill in Hays above East Carson Street -- are at it again.

Bicyclists on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail near the Keystone Iron and Metal scrap yard have recently watched the birds building a new nest not far from the original, which partially collapsed during fledging.

Wildlife watchers wondered if November might be a bit early for nest building. But ornithologist Bob Mulvihill of the National Aviary on the North Side said science knows very little about bald eagle behaviors in this part of their range, which stretches across North America.

"We've studied eagles up at Pymatuning and in the Susquehanna River drainage, but eagles around [Pittsburgh] are something relatively new. We don't know a lot about them."

The juvenile eagle was hatched April 15, fledged in June and left its parents in late August. The adults have not migrated from the nesting area overlooking the Monongahela River. Mr. Mulvihill said they're likely to remain through winter if the river does not freeze over and fish continue to be available.

If food acquisition becomes difficult, they would likely travel together southward until they find open water.

"This time of year, eagles can be very sociable," he said. "At Pymatuning and other places, they can congregate in groups of tens or hundreds."

The eagles were first noticed soaring over the hillside near the Glenwood Bridge in fall 2012. Mr. Mulvihill said the recent nest- building activity might not be out of character for this pair.

"They did a good job as a new nesting pair, but they built their first nest in what seemed to be an odd location," he said. …

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