The Hays Bald Eagles

By Karin Bolcshazy

After an absence of about two centuries, bald eagles were spotted in the Hays Neighborhood in January 2013. The Hays couple, in their 11th breeding season nesting on a steep hillside high above the Monongahela River near the Glenwood Bridge, has successfully raised 20 eaglets over the years.

First egg of 2023: February 17; second egg: February 20. First hatch: March 26; second hatch: March 28.

Last year, more than 2.4 million people in 50 countries watched the Pittsburgh bald eagles via the webcam, according to Bill Powers, owner of PixCams in Murraysville.

Nests are refurbished each spring before the eggs are laid, but other material may be added after eggs are laid and even when the chicks are still in the nest. Nests therefore grow through the years. Most nests are about four feet wide and three feet or more deep. Unlike many birds, eagles' nests are often flat at the top – not containing the typical "cup" shape. A typical nest weighs hundreds of pounds - some record nests have weighed over 2000 pounds!! Nests can get so large that they often bring down the tree they are built in. In the case of the Hays couple, they have had to rebuild their nest a number of times due to damage/loss during inclement weather.

The number of eggs can be from one to four, but two is the most common. Some research says that 79% of all nests contain two eggs. Eaglets will grow rapidly over a short amount of time and soon be the same size as the parents. In Pennsylvania, they will leave the nest typically during mid-summer and return to the nest until they finally are forced by their parents to move away. (Kids!!!)

Eagles have lived in captivity for 48 years under ideal conditions; in the wild, this age may be cut in half. Research shows that only 50% of eaglets will survive their first year, and only 1 in 10 will live to the age of 5 (adulthood). Once they reach this age, most will live to be 20 years old on average.

Nationally, the eagle population quadrupled in the lower 48 states from 2009 to 2020 with 316,700 birds and 71,400 nesting pairs, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Info from Wikipedia; Audubon Society of Western PA; TribLive