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New Hays bald eagle webcam will have downtown Pittsburgh view as a backdrop |

New Hays bald eagle webcam will have downtown Pittsburgh view as a backdrop

Mary Ann Thomas
| Wednesday, December 19, 2018 7:33 p.m

It was always a nest with a view, but the Pittsburgh Hays bald eagle nest will soon include the sight of the foothills of the South Side and a snatch of the top of the Pittsburgh city skyline.

Eagle watchers in local classrooms and across the country will soon be able to see the eagle couple on a live webcam set up at the birds’ new nest location, which isn’t far from where the formerly endangered birds have been nesting since 2013.

A team of six hardy installers from CSE Corp., formerly PixController, Arborel Tree Service and the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania carefully descended a steep hillside above the Monongahela River on Wednesday morning to place the webcam.

But because of technical issues, some equipment will have to be swapped out before the webcam can go live, which is expected by the end of the month.

Rob “Spiderman” Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service effortlessly climbed about 80 foot up an oak tree next to the eagle’s nest to mount the camera, which is operated by cellular and solar technology.

This nest tree, a sturdy oak, is in good health — unlike two of the pair’s previous nest trees, said Brian Shema, director of operations for Audubon.

“But the birds have been staying in the same area,” he said, “showing a high nesting fidelity to this hillside.”

After successfully rearing one young eaglet early this year, the eagles abandoned their last nest possibly because it became overrun with poison ivy vines later in the summer, local photographers said.

CSE and some of the Hays eagle watchers transferred some of the webcam equipment from the old to the new nest site several weeks ago.

This will be the sixth year for having a webcam broadcasting at the Hays nest.

“I think this year’s view will be the best we ever had with a backdrop toward the city and the river, and a side-view angle,” said Bill Powers, director of engineering for CSE.

Powers worked with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to install the first eagle webcam in the state at Hays in 2013.

The Hays live webcam can be viewed on Audubon’s and CSE’s websites soon.

In addition to the public, the webcam in streamed live in at least 50 classrooms in the region, according to Chris Kubiak, Audubon’s education director.

The webcam trained on the nesting eagles have become an example of STEM (science, technology, English, math) education. It does so by showcasing the nesting lives of the birds via the technology of internet streaming live both an Audubon instructor and the webcam.

The eagles next month will start to ramp up courtship activities and are expected to start laying eggs in mid- to late February.

The Harmar nest

For the time being, the webcam at the Harmar bald eagle nest site from last year will stay mounted in the nest tree, which is an old, huge sycamore near Route 28.

However, the nest is no longer there, Shema said, and the birds have built another nest farther down the hillside.

As there are still a few months to go before the eagles start to lay eggs, Shema said, it’s unclear where the birds will choose to nest.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary Ann at 724-226-4691, or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

Rob Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service begins to haul the Hays bald eagle web camera to its new location on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
Rob Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service scales a tree high over the Monongahela River to set up the new Hays bald eagle web camera on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
Brian Shema, operations director for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, heads down a hill at the new site of the Hays bald eagle nest in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
Bill Powers of CSE Corp. of Murrysville hooks up batteries to a solar panel to power the Hays bald eagle webcam in its new location on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
Rob Kruljac of Arborel Tree Service gets ready to climb a tree to hang the Hays bald eagle webcam in its new location on a bluff in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018.
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