Bald Eagle Comeback

Bald eagle pair building nest at Moraine State Park (photo by Steve Gosser)Bald eagle pair at Moraine (photo by Chuck Tague)The resurgence of the bald eagle in western Pennsylvania is a beautiful thing.  Nothing confirms it so well as seeing our newest pair of eagles flying together at Moraine State Park in Butler County.  In the photos above, Chuck Tague caught them flying together in a blue sky on November 1 and Steve Gosser captured them building a nest on November 23.  They won't be laying eggs any time soon but they are housekeeping.  It looks like this pair will make the lake their home.

As recently as 25 years ago it was almost impossible to find a bald eagle in Pennsylvania.  In 1980 there were only three nesting pairs in the entire state - all of them at Pymatuning.  Pesticides, especially DDT, accumulated in the eagles' bodies and made their eggs crack and fail.  With no young eagles reaching adulthood, the population declined as the adults died off.  It didn't help that water pollution during that era reduced fish populations, the eagle's staple food.

In the mid-1980s the PA Game Commission conducted a bald eagle reintroduction program.  This year they counted at least 120 nesting pairs in the state.  What a great success! 

If you want to see these birds, drive the south shore loop of Moraine State Park (park office toward Pleasant Valley) and look for a large dark bird with white head and tail.  It helps to have binoculars and patience.  It's a big lake and they could be anywhere.

28 thoughts on “Bald Eagle Comeback

  1. I read in an article concerning the death of a 7 month old bald eagle in Butler County, PA. The bald eagle had been shot and lived about a week. The Game Commission believes it was deliberate.

    The picture of the nest podium looks man made.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of ever seeing a bald eagle.

    Love the pictures!

  2. Kate,

    I wonder whether the eagles Steve Gosser found and photographed putting sticks on the Osprey nest are the same pair that we saw a couple of weeks previously, carrying sticks onto a large pine across from the South Shore. Steve says he hasn’t seen any further activity at the South Shore location.

    I’d be surprised if they like the Osprey platform site any better, because it has even more — and much closer — human traffic than the site across from the South Shore.

    Best regards,
    Paul Hess

    P.S. Your blog is wonderful.

  3. Wonderful post! This gives me hope that someday I may see a Bald Eagle. They are still not that easy to see. I used to live in Washington Township, next the the reservoir where two purportedly live. I would visit there all the time in hopes of seeing my first wild Bald Eagles *EVER*. Yet I never saw them, there or anywhere else for that matter; AND I AM A BIRDER! It may be a success story, yet in my mind, they are still so rare that to me it seems nearly impossible to see these wonderful birds.

  4. My daughter and I had the thrill of seeing one of the bald eagles flying near our home north of Harmony, shortly before the holiday. It filled us with awe. And knowing that they are so close gives me hope that we will see them again.

  5. Yes! We saw a bald eagle today (May 12, 2008) at Moraine State Park, flying along the north shore by Davis Point. What a beautiful sight!

  6. I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing a bald eagle yesterday, January 26, 2009 in Pulaski, Pennsylvania where Route 208 and Route 551 meet… What a beautiful bird… i had my camera so i took a few pictures and sent them to the New Castle News. The pics will be in the paper but i dont know when. That was the first time ive seen a bald eagle and he was only about 25 to 30 feet away feeding on an unfortunate rabbit that was frozen in the snow…it is not such a rarity anymore to see one but it definitely doesnt happen everyday…Im very fortunate and thankful.

    Lisa Mcmillen

  7. No one is probally going to believe me, but I had a good enough view to know what I saw. It was a Bald Eagle flying along the Mongehala River in Pittsburgh at the Waterfront in Homestead. Not exactly known for its eagle population but it was a bright sunny day and the eagle was low enough that its features were highly noticeable. This was back in late January that I saw the bird.

  8. I believe you! Several people saw a bald eagle there in the winter of 2007-2008. I missed seeing them on the Mon this year so I’m glad to know someone did. Thanks for posting this, Cory.

  9. No problem Kate, its been a good year in my area, I was having alot of luck seeing the falcons at the Rankin Bridge until the construction started 🙁 And the eagle was icing on the cake….Im trying to decide to go on my first birding outting with a guide at Pymatuning State Park this Sunday, despite the poor weather…..

  10. I believe that there is a pair of bald eagles nesting in a cell phone/radio tower near the Prospect Fire Hall (the Oakview housing plan). I questioned several neighbors living in that area, but none seemed to know if the huge birds were, in fact, bald eagles.

    I plan on taking my binoculars with me next time I visit. 🙂

  11. Dacey, Are you referring to Prospect, PA near Moraine State Park? I remember seeing an osprey nest last year in the vicinity of a cell tower on Rt 528 between the Rt 528 Boat Launch and Rt 422. When you check the cell tower the other possible nesters there are Ospreys or Red-tailed Hawks. Let me know what you find!

  12. Kate, The area that I am referring to is right in Prospect, a few streets from main street (across the road from the Elementary School). I wondered if they could be osprey, but the calls that I heard matched the bird call book that I have… so I’m hoping. 🙂 Like I said, I do need to take my binoculars next time to be sure. I’ll let you know what I find out next time I go.

  13. Kate,
    Yes, it is the Prospect near Moraine. Sorry to disappoint, but I think my feathered friends are of the osprey variety. The tower that they’re in is fairly far from the road and with the inexpensive binoculars I have, it was hard to tell for sure. But, I think there was too much white on the belly for it to be a bald eagle. If someone finds out otherwise, I would love to know.

  14. went on a 43 mile trip down the Clarion River 2 weekends ago, and was lucky enough to see a pair of bald eagles being harrassed by crows right as we began to enter Cooks Forest

  15. My mom, sister and I went to Moraine in October of 2008 because we had heard there were bald eagles there. We arrived early, around 6:30 am. We happened upon a park ranger who gave us a general idea of where they could possibly be. We drove to where we thought he had directed us…the North Shore. We got out of our car and started walking, and I happened to look up into a fir tree as the ranger had mentioned, and there were two bald eagles sitting up on a branch eating breakfast. We watched them in that tree for an hour. One of them then flew out over the lake and the beauty took our breath away. We decided to walk a little further down from where we had parked, and there sitting on a branch of a dead tree, against an early-morning, crystal-clear blue sky was one of them staring at us! We had driven up there on a whim, and there we were looking at these magnificent birds that we thought we would never see. We left there so grateful for what we had witnessed. Now that summer is here, we are planning to head east next week and see if we can spot them again. The ranger had mentioned that there was possibly two nesting pairs there. It appeared they were mature eagles, so we are curious to see if any young had been born in Moraine. We really are looking forward to our next trip and hoping we will be so lucky again.

  16. I’m moving to Beaver Falls, PA in a few weeks and was wondering if anyone could give me some locations around the lake of where to look for them? I’m having very little luck here in Ohio and this looks like a huge boost from what I’ve been seeing. Please email me at with any tips, anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  17. Well, our Christmas tradition of seeing the Bald Eagle on the creek near Harmony continues. This time my husband, Kenny, and I noticed something in the big Maple in the back yard. It was the Eagle. It stayed only a few minutes then took off north long the creek. What a gift.

  18. No, I don’t. The photo was taken 2 years ago and I believe the eagles ultimately did not use the osprey platform (which is what it is) as their nest.

  19. Yesterday at 5:15 PM, I saw a bald eagle for the first time flying just below the tree tops in a clearing on my property in Rochester Township, Beaver County. He was unmistakable with the white feathers on his head and tail and great wingspan. Breathtaking! Dave Miller at the National Aviary told me they are making a comback in our area and that a resident pair in Millvale regularly flies along the river to the Point.

  20. Today we saw a bald eagle flying the Mon River near the Waterfront, in Homestead PA. We tried to follow if, but was elusive.. It was awesome to see that beautiful thing. I hope it stays for a long long time!

  21. they’re a pair of adult bald eagles nesting between Beaver Falls and New Brighton on the Beaver River. they can be seen daily crossing the New Brighton Beaver Falls bridge looking north towards the dam.look in the trees lining the river they’re easy to see with no foliage.

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