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Pittsburgh bald eagles deliver 1st egg of the year in 7th year of nesting

Mary Ann Thomas
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Courtesy of the Audubon Society of Western Pa.
The Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles have their first egg of the 2019 nesting season, according to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
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Courtesy CSE Corp./Audubon Society of Western PA
The Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles delivered their first egg of the season at about 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

The Pittsburgh Hays bald eagles have delivered for the seventh year, laying their first egg of the season Tuesday.

The egg first was spotted via a live webcam at about 6:45 p.m., according to a release from the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

The Hays birds are the first pair of bald eagles to nest in the city limits in more than 150 years. The birds are making a comeback in the region due to cleaner rivers and the rebounding population of the formerly endangered birds.

The Hays couple have built four different nests since 2013 overlooking the Monongahela River, a busy railroad line and a scrap yard. These urban eagles have been dedicated to the same hillside visible from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, where a cadre of observers and photographers monitor the birds.

Both eagles will take turns incubating the egg, with the female doing most of the work. The male will hunt, mostly fish, and bring food to his mate. The egg is expected to hatch in 35 days. The birds typically lay a clutch of one to three eggs, laying them successively one to several days apart. The eggs will hatch in the same sequence.

The Hays scorecard of eaglets: In 2013: 1; 2014: 3; 2015: 0; 2016: 2; 2017: 1; 2018: 1. The birds sometimes lay eggs that don’t hatch.

A live webcam documents all the activities at the nest. It is sponsored by Audubon, CSE Corp. of Murrysville and Arborel Tree Service with the permission of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Audubon and CSE had a second webcam on the bald eagle nest in Harmar. Since the Harmar birds lost their longtime nest on a bluff above Route 28, presumably during a storm, they have built a new nest nearby, which will not be webcammed this year.

The camera at Hays will broadcast in high definition with sound, and the stream will include a rewind feature that allows viewers to see up to two hours of earlier nest activity. CSE Corp. was formerly known as PixController, is an environmental surveillance equipment company known for its wildlife webcams.

Watch the eagles live on the web: CSE Corp. and the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania .

More bald eagles are expected to nest in the region in the years to come as their populations are booming in the state, according to Patricia Barber of Patricia Barber, an endangered-species biologist with the game commission.

That agency, along with others re-introduced bald eagles in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to boost their population, which dropped to critically low levels in the 1970s because of the pesticide DDT.

In Allegheny County, in addition to known nests in Hays, Harmar, Crescent Township, and the McKeesport area, a new nest has been confirmed in North Park in the North Hills and a nest has been suspected but not found for a pair of eagles frequenting the Allegheny River near Harrison Hills Park in Harrison Township.

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