Trespassing, traffic reported near bald eagles' nest site


Fans of York County's most famous eagle family are so eager to see the pair of growing chicks that some are causing traffic problems on a rural back road near the Hanover-area nest site, officials said.

The best view of the eagles remains on the Internet, where the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website offers a free live-steaming "eagle cam." People from around the world have been keeping up with the raptors through the live stream video, according to Travis Lau, commission spokesman.

Eagle enthusiasts have also been making pilgrimages to Codorus State Park, according to park manager Warren Werntz.

Volunteer birders set up spotting scopes at the park's classroom building — located behind the park's marina — to help people view the raptors from across Lake Marburg, he said.

"Mostly there are birders there every day," Werntz said.

The nest is on private property near the park and can be seen with binoculars from the park's marina and sailboat area, according to Hanover bird expert Karen Lippy.

But cars are stopping on the narrow back road to see the nest, forcing traffic to drive around them, she said.

Some cars drive too fast, according to Lippy, and others block private driveways when they stop.

Warning signs: Werntz said park rangers have heard about vehicles blocking a private driveway.

"We're going to be putting up signs in the driveway telling people not to (trespass)," he said.

Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean confirmed he's aware of neighbors' concerns about trespassing and parking.

"It's a sparsely used road, so any new traffic does raise some eyebrows for residents," he said. "Officers from the park and from our department have observed vehicles that are stopped along the roadway. We do ask them to move. ... It's not safe and it's illegal to obstruct the roadway."

Bean said police will enforce trespassing laws against anyone who walks onto private property there without permission.

"We've been proactive and have increased patrols in the area," he said. "Officers have been in contact with a dozen or so (people who) parked on the roadway or had trespassed on private property."

'Sensitive time': The neighborhood is so quiet that any vehicle slowing or stopping there sticks out like a sore thumb, according to the chief.

Lau said he understands why people are driving to the nest site.

"They want to see the famous eagles," he said. "But you don't want to be the one who's responsible for a nest failure. And that's the risk you run if you try to (get too close). It's a sensitive time in the nesting cycle."

Disturbing an eagle's nest can result in local and federal charges.

Lau urged people to watch the eagles either from Codorus State Park or on the eagle cam.

"You're not going to get a better look than you get on the camera," he said.

Chick update: The two eagle chicks, which hatched March 24 and 25, are busy eating and sleeping, Lau confirmed, and appear to be doing well.

"They're starting to walk around a little bit and explore the nest a little," he said.

The adult eagles have been stocking up on food, which litters the edges of the nest. That includes fish people are calling gizzard shad, Lau said, as well as some mammals.

Look closely at the eagle cam and it's not hard to spot the multitude of flies.

The ever-dwindling remains of a skunk were still at the edge of the nest as of Monday afternoon.

"Their sense of smell isn't very good," Lau said of bald eagles.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at



"There are few sights more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline," the Pennsylvania Game Commission notes on its website, but acting responsibly around them is very important, as eagle nests are easily disturbed.

Disturbing nests can endanger the eaglets in it and cause them stress, according to the commission, which urges people to enjoy eagles from a distance and to respect the birds' space.

The commission website offers etiquette guidelines for watching eagle nests, which are reprinted here:

* Stay at least 1,000 feet from an active nest, roost or feeding area. Use binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles from a distance.

* Be quiet. If you must talk, whisper.

* Try to be unobtrusive. Use your vehicle or boat as a blind, because eagles often are more alarmed by pedestrians than vehicles.

* Avoid sudden movements — and movements directly toward the eagles or the nest — while on foot or in a vehicle or boat.

* Don't make the birds fly, known as "flushing." Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather, or to a predator. It also wastes precious energy and may cause eagles to leave behind a valuable meal or abandon a nest that's under construction.

* Pay attention to how an eagle reacts to your presence. If it appears agitated, vocalizes repeatedly or starts moving away, you are too close.

* Respect restricted zones, which protect eagle nesting areas. You are breaking state and federal laws if you enter them.

* Respect the privacy of the landowner. Don't tell everyone about a new eagle nest, as it will attract people who don't know proper etiquette as well as other unnecessary attention to a nest. If you unexpectedly stumble onto an eagle nest, or hear an eagle vocalizing overhead, leave immediately and quietly.

— Courtesy of Pa. Game Commission.