With more and more work going into the care of the Monongahela River and the creeks and waterways throughout western Pennsylvania, more and more wildlife is making its way into our area. You’re sure to spot a multitude of birds and fish during your Mon River journeys – and if you’re really lucky, you may just spot a bald eagle!
Once an endangered species, this beautiful national symbol has bounced back since 1963, when only 417 mating pairs of bald eagles remained. As recently as the 1980s, only three bald eagle nests existed in Pennsylvania.
Today this fish-eating raptor is no longer considered endangered, and it’s estimated that 7,066 nesting pairs live in the U.S., primarily in sections of Alaska, Canada, and the northern U.S. As for Pennsylvania? The eagle population has bounced back tremendously, to the point that tracking the eagles can be quite difficult.
About The Bald Eagle
Sights Near Us!
It’s one thing to read about bald eagles and another to see them during local nature hikes. Fortunately, as bald eagles continue to recover, visitors to our Mon River communities have reported more and more eagle sightings. For example:
More Sightings Coming Soon?
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh was recently consulted about the possibility of eagles in the Mon River Valley. According to experts, the Mid Mon Valley could definitely be the next location for an eagle couple to select for a territory and nest.
An eagle matures around the 4th or 5th year. The Hays pair (which nests near the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail around Pittsburgh) has been mating in the area for five years. There is also a pair of eagles in Harmar and by Canonsburg Lake. With new birds growing in the surrounding areas, it is the Aviary staff’s opinion that in the next few years, there will likely be at least one pair in the mid Mon.
Interestingly, eagles tend to select areas that do not have hiking trails. They avoid human interaction and do not like ATVs. However, things like trains and other industrial equipment do not bother them. They seem to be able to distinguish from a non-threat and a potential human threat.
Sighting Eagles Safely
If you plan on looking for eagles during your next trip along the Mon, we ask that you consider the land and animals you will be interacting with and plan accordingly. Since eagles do not tend to nest near trails that are used by humans, you will need to prepare to view any nests from a distance. Attempting to leave an approved trail for a closer look could put yourself in danger and drive away these beautiful birds. And it’s especially important to not try to climb into an eagle’s nest, both for your own safety and to avoid disrupting the eagle’s habitat and family. Having binoculars on hand is the best way to see these beautiful birds without getting too close (i.e. within 1,000 feet). Respecting the land they live in and not straying far from local trails is also very important, as is respecting all local property laws.
A Special Announcement
Have you come across any of these majestic animals on your hikes? Snap a picture and enter our Instagram Photo Contest! Post your Bald Eagle photos using the hashtag #RTPEagleSearch2017 for a chance to win a weekly $25 gift card. More information on the contest and rules can be found here. If you unable to get a photo, we would still love to hear where you are seeing the eagles. Please direct message the Mon River Towns Facebook page, @RiverTownProgram, with the location, date, and time of day with your sightings.
Ready to plan your trip? Skip the “nature hikes near me” Google search – you can visit our website any time to find a list of towns and trip planning resources!
Image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net