Every day that passes without an egg at the Cathedral of Learning nest confirms my disappointment that there’s no Pittsburgh peregrine family to watch online. However, we have a great alternative at a local nest with two active chicks.
The eaglets at the Hays bald eagle nest have long since passed the brooding stage and already have pin feathers. Their parents stand guard overnight as seen this morning before 5am.
The first eaglet appeared on Sat 21 March 21 at 7:40am, above. The second one hatched on Monday 23 March at 6:40am, below.
In the day between hatchlings, Audubon Society of Western PA captured this video of the mother rolling her second egg. Notice how carefully she holds her talons inward as she steps near her chick. What a good mom!
p.s. Stay safe, folks. Online viewing is best! Allegheny and seven other Pennsylvania counties are now under a Stay At Home order through 6 April. (Click for details) We are allowed to go outdoors but must stay six feet apart.
There’s happy news at the Harmar bald eagle nest, observed by Gina Gilmore.
Gina was on hand on Wed 26 Feb 2020 at 1:57pm when she saw — and filmed — the female bald eagle behaving as if she had laid her first egg. The bird stood in the nest, often looked down between her feet, and remained standing as if she was waiting for an egg to dry. Then she settled down to begin incubation.
Click here or on the image above to see Gina’s video. When you play the video, click on the speaker icon at bottom right to turn on sound …
This egg is the 10th at the Harmar site since nesting was first confirmed in 2013/2014 and the 1st for 2020. A second egg is due today or tomorrow, 28 or 29 Feb, at Harmar.
Thank you, Gina Gilmore, for filming this happy event. Without an eaglecam on the nest, we rely on observers like Gina to note behavior that indicates an egg has been laid. See more of Gina’s photos on her Facebook page.
Happy news on Valentine’s Day! Last evening the Audubon Society of Western PA (ASWP) announced:
[Pittsburgh, PA, February 13, 2020] – Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania confirms an egg in the Hays, PA Bald Eagle nest. The egg, laid at 6:30 pm this evening, is visible in the nest on the eagle cam when the incubating adult stands up: http://aswp.org/pages/hays-nest. There is typically a 2-3 day span in between eggs being laid in a Bald Eagle nest. In 2019, the Hays Bald Eagles laid three eggs; two hatched and the juveniles successfully fledged the nest.
Clean your feeders: Bird feeders accumulate mold and bacteria, including Salmonella. Clean them every two to four weeks by emptying and soaking for 10 minutes in a weak solution of 10% bleach (1 part bleach, 9 parts water) described at The Spruce: Bird Feeder Cleaning Tips.
Keep your cat indoors.
Provide shelter (described above).
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman, video tweet from @RLJSlick)
The amazing photo below of an eagle’s claw and a human hand left me wondering, Who is this bird and why are his claws so big? Today I’ll tell you a bit of his life story.
Shaped like a giant goshawk with a feather crest, the crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) lives in the riparian forests of sub-Saharan Africa where it eats monkeys, small forest antelopes (duikers), “mouse-deer” (chevrotains) and “rock rabbits” (rock hyrax). Click on the links to see photos of these unusual animals.
Crowned eagles weigh only 6-10 pounds, smaller than bald eagles, yet they routinely capture mammals twice as heavy as they are. Reports say they can fly with prey that outweighs them, but they normally rip it apart on the ground and cache pieces in the trees. For this lifestyle they need large talons.
For many years now my First Bird of the Year is always the American crow because hundreds fly over my house before dawn, cawing as they disperse from the roost. The only way a different species could win “First Bird” is if I cheated and ignored the obvious.
This year I decided to change the challenge to Best Bird of the First Day. My 2020 winner is the turkey vulture that used to be absent on January 1.
Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) are South American birds who’ve expanded their range into North America, year-round residents in the southern U.S. but only summer visitors up north.
Vultures migrate because they can’t eat our winter food supply. Though carrion is available year-round their beaks aren’t strong enough to rip open frozen food.
However climate change is doing them a favor. Last month in Pittsburgh most days were barely below freezing and five recent days were as much as 20 degrees above normal. Nothing was frozen.
Turkey vultures used to leave Pittsburgh for the winter but in this century a few began to linger here. The most reliable group roosted within sight of Dashields Dam on the Ohio River. Last month additional vultures were reported during the Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count. Even so, I was surprised to see two of them soaring over McKnight Road on the first day of the year.