PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the father stands guard on his perch nearby, a baby eaglet — the first bald eagle born in Pittsburgh in anyone’s memory — preens itself in anticipation of its maiden flight.
“My guess is another month before it starts flying,” Jerry Devinney of Penn Hills said.
Since we first told you about them three months ago, the eagles have become a major attraction on the South Side stretch of the Allegheny Passage Trail, where birders with binoculars and spotting scopes now assemble daily.
“They’re just gorgeous,” Annette Devinney said. “And right here in our hometown.”
But their joy is tempered with news that two other eagles — one in Butler and another in Cambria County — have been shot dead.
“The bald eagle represents our country and all the vets and everyone who gave their life for this country,” Ray Sommer of Munhall said. “And some yo-yo has nothing better to do than go out on a Saturday night and shoot a couple of eagles.”
“To see our national symbol be persecuted like this out of ignorance,” Gary Fujak with the state game commission said. “It’s not a good thing at all, it’s really sad to see.”
Killing an eagle is both a state and federal offense with up to 10 years in jail. But harassing a nest is also a crime and the game commission recommends that observers keep a distance of 1,000 feet.
“That’s a little more than three football fields, to make sure that the young stay in the nest and don’t leave the nest before their time,” Fujak said. “We want them to have every opportunity to survive and thrive.”
And that is about as close as you want to be — close enough to see the birds with binoculars or a spotting scope, but far enough away that the symbol of American freedom can live a life unfettered.