Eagle cam in York County

The Issue

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s online “Bald Eagle Live Stream” now has its camera perched on the edge of a nest in a tree at Codorus State Park near Hanover, York County.

If you haven’t checked out the “eagle cam,” you should take a look.

The Game Commission’s Bald Eagle Live Stream not only offers a live view of the nest, it also provides time-lapse images of the eagle couple making their home there. And there are lots of links to click to learn about eagles and their history in Pennsylvania.

Among the interesting facts the Game Commission shares on its site:

— Pennsylvania was down to as few as three pairs of nesting bald eagles as recently as 1980 before rebounding to more than 270 pairs in 2013.

— They build the largest nest of any North American bird.

— A pair of bald eagles generally mates for life. (A fact that human lovebirds might particularly appreciate this Valentine’s Day.)

— The wingspan of a bald eagle ranges from five and a half feet to eight feet.

— They weigh between 8 and 12 pounds.

— Female eagles are about 25 percent larger than male eagles.

— Both sexes will sit on the nest and protect the eggs or young, exchanging places while the other forages for food.

This last fact is becoming of greater interest now, as eagle egg-laying  season begins in late February and continues through April.

Eagles tend to lay between one to three eggs in a clutch, one egg at a time over three to six days. They incubate in about 35 days and leave the nest about eight to 14 weeks after hatching — which means this will be a site worth watching through the summer.

And young eagles continue to grow and develop under adult care for four to 10 weeks after leaving the nest — usually staying within 1,000 feet of the nest during this period.

There is a reason the state devotes resources to things like the eagle cam. We learn something essential about nature and the environment when we view eagles in their habitat. And, in learning to appreciate them, we can continue to move away from the way eagles were treated from colonization of America through the early 20th century.

“Despite its status as a national symbol,” the Game Commission notes, “the bald eagle has been one of the most persecuted birds in the country ... routinely shot on sight” because it was accused of preying on game and farm animals.

For the same reason, the federal government is paying $1.3 million for a preserve for the threatened bog turtle on a 102-acre damp, grassy field on the edge of Adamstown and East Cocalico Township.

There is something wonderful and enriching about viewing nature in its glory.

If the eagles aren’t enough for you, visit LancasterOnline and check out the flight of thousands of snow geese over Sunnyside quarry in Lancaster.

These birds are good reminders that spring is on its way, and with it will come still more wonders.

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