The History of Bald Eagles in Pittsburgh
In 2013 Pittsburghers proudly celebrated the return of nesting Bald Eagles to the shores of the Three Rivers, when a pair built their nest along the Monongahela River near the community of Hays, less than five miles from Point State Park adjacent to the downtown area. A single young eagle fledged from that nest. Soon after the chick fledged, the nest itself, which had been built in a surprisingly small tree and which looked precarious almost from the start, fell apart.
A different pair of Bald Eagles had nested succesfully a year earlier on the Ohio River, about 15 miles downstream from the Point. But, it was the nesting of the eagles at Hays, which could be conveniently watched from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on Pittsburgh's Southside, that captured everybody's attention! A third pair attempted to nest along the Allegheny River near Harmar in 2013, but that nesting pair did not become established until the following year.
It is impossible to know exactly, but given the city’s long history of industrial pollution, wildlife professionals believe that 2012 and 2013 probably were the first time that eagles had nested successfully near Pittsburgh in over 150 years--a strong testament to the conservation efforts made by the Pennsylvania Game Commission on behalf of the species beginning in the early 1980s, as well as to the general improvement in environmental quality following passage in the early 1970s of federal laws to protect air, water, and endangered species.
Hays Bald Eagle Nest Cam: A first for Pittsburgh ...and for Pennsylvania!
In fall 2014 the Hays eagle pair started building a new nest about 100 yards from the first, and this time in a much sturdier looking tree. Seizing an opportunity, Bill Powers of PixController, Inc., with the permission of the PA Game Commission, installed the first-ever nest camera on a Bald Eagle nest in Pennsylvania. Attached to a tree about 50 yards uphill from the nest, and powered by batteries recharged with solar technology, the nest cam gave the world a very intimate view of the family life of these Bald Eagles. Word spread quickly, and by the end of the nesting season, more than 3 million views had been logged for Pittsburgh's Hays Bald Eagle nest cam!
The pair successfully hatched and fledged three young that year. The parents remained in the area through the winter, and occasionally appeared together at the nest doing what the Hays eagle nest cam faithful liked to call “nest-orations.”
People can watch the nesting progress of the Hays pair again this year, thanks to the Audubon Society of Western Pennylvania, which has been named official educational sponsor for the Hays Eagle Cam.