PLEASE DO NOT GET CLOSE TO THE EAGLES, THEIR NESTS, OR CHASE THEM & DISRUPT THEM IN ANY WAY.
ADMIRE AT A DISTANCE!
ADMIRE AT A DISTANCE!
Cheryl & Mike Peters have photographed Eagles on Siltop Property ever since they moved to Richardville about 16 years ago. Chery usually saw the Eagles several times a week in 2020 when riding along the North Fork Trail, but mainly around the old beaver dam at the east end of the trail and around butterfly beach. Cheryl even had them fly by them while her and Mike were sitting at the pavilion at Goose neck. One time near the old beaver dam, they had the chance of seeing 4 at one time. While riding anywhere along the North Fork trail you will have ample chances of spotting the eagles, just keep looking up.
The bald eagles taxonomic name (Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) means "white headed sea eagle". The word "bald" is a misnomer. Eagles were listed as a federally endangered species until 1995 when their status was upgraded to "threatened". In Pennsylvania, they remain a state endangered species and are protected by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Protection Treaty Act. The status in Pa was changed to protected in Jan. 2014.
Adult bald eagles are 30 - 40 inches in length and weigh 8 - 14 ponds, with a wingspan of 6 - 8 feet and standing height of about 2 feet. As with other birds of prey, the female is larger than the male. Their eyesight is among the keenest in the animal world and is 5 to 6 times sharper than that of humans.
Bald eagles are most readily identified by their white heads and tails; however they don't attain this characteristic plumage until 5 years of age. Until that time they are dark brown with varying amounts of white mottling.
Eagles feed mainly on fish which makes up to 60 - 90 percent of their diets, but will also prey on small mammals, waterfowl and even will feed on carcasses of dead animals. They are generally a "sit and wait" predator often perching patiently in a tree and waiting for a fish to surface.
Eagles generally mate for life, although when one partner dies, the other will readily find a new mate. Nesting is proceeded by a spectacular aerial courtship, with the birds somersaulting in the sky.
An eagle’s nest is called an eyrie. Nest sites are near lakes, rivers, reservoirs, swamps, and seashores. A new nest is about 5 feet wide and 2 feet high, with an inside depression 4 to 5 inches deep and 20 inches in diameter. Often a pair returns to the same nest year after year, adding a new layer of sticks, branches, plus lining of grass, moss, twigs and weeds. Enlarged annually, some nests grow to become so large that they break the branches that support them.
The female lays 2 - 3 eggs in March or April. Both parents incubate the eggs. If all goes well, the eggs hatch after about 35 days. Young eaglets are fed by their parents. Sometimes a large or older hatchling will kill its smaller weaker sibling. Eaglets develop most of their feathers by 3 to 4 weeks, start walking around in their nests around 6 to 7 weeks and begin to fly at about 3 months. The adults may encourage fledging by circling the nest with food items. The juveniles continue to grow and develop after fledging and are cared for by the adults for 4 to 10 weeks after leaving the nest. The fledglings often follow the adults after leaving the nest site often staying fairly close to the nest area during the post-fledging period.
Eagles do not breed until they are 4 or 5 years of age and they have a slow natural reproduction rate. Pennsylvania's Bald eagles spend their winters near their nesting sites and do not migrate.
Bald eagles can live 30 years or longer in the wild. They have few natural enemies. They thrive around bodies of water where there is adequate food and limited human disturbance. They will forage a mile or two from their nest but tend to be very efficient hunters that do not wander far from good foraging opportunities where they nest.
Written by Cheryl Peters