If the eggs are fertile, a nest at Shenango River Lake could produce some eaglets any day now.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
CLARK, Pa. -- A pair of bald eagles has taken over a platform erected to attract breeding osprey to Shenango River Lake.
It's the second time the nation's national symbol has located at the lake, said James E. Deniker, a land manager for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
A bald eagle nested along the lake in the Orangeville Road area about seven years ago but abandoned its nest.
Deniker said it was likely that contact with too many people scared the bird away.
The game commission is hoping that doesn't happen this time, and so far, everything is going well, he said. He noted the pair of eagles has been on the nesting site for about 30 days.
The gestation period for eagle eggs is about 35 days, meaning if there are fertile eggs in the nest, they could hatch any day now, Deniker said.
He wouldn't be specific about the exact location of the nesting site, but the eagles can be spotted soaring above the lake west of Pa. Route 18.
The nest is on a platform atop a 30-foot wooden pole in a protected propagation area. Foot and vehicular traffic are banned, which should help the eagles avoid human interference, Deniker said.
No one has been able to determine if the eagles are banded, and no one has tried to approach the nest.
"We really don't want to disturb them," Deniker said.
"We're seeing more nests in the northwest region [of the state]," he said, noting the bald eagle population in the state is growing.
Future nests: Wildlife officers are excited because even if no eaglets are produced this year, the adult pair are likely to return to the nesting site year after year. Any young raised here are also likely to return as adults.
The nesting platform was erected for osprey, a brown and white hawk that feeds on fish and is a good deal smaller than a bald eagle.
The eagles build large nests of sticks and add to it each year, so there is a concern an expanding nest might eventually be too much for the platform.
The game commission will reinforce it after the eagles leave at the end of the season to make sure it will be safe for next year, Deniker said.
A pair of osprey nested on the platform when it was erected four years ago, but a pair of Canada geese, which usually nest on the ground, took over the elevated site for the next two seasons, he said.
They came back again this year, but the eagles chased them away, Deniker said, noting they are still in the area but have returned to nesting on the ground.
The two osprey that first occupied the platform are still in the area. They relocated to another nesting platform about 500 yards away, he said.