More than a thousand fans visit York County's eaglets in a single day


As York County's two most popular chicks continue to grow at a breakneck pace, so does their fan base.

From noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, at least 1,149 of those fans made the pilgrimage to Codorus State Park's marina viewing area to see the eaglets and their parents, according to Wendy Looker, environmental education specialist for Codorus State Park.

"Obviously there were people there before that and afterward, and I'm sure we missed some," she said, adding that number didn't include anyone watching the eagles from the park's sailboat area or from boats on Lake Marburg.

"I don't anticipate the numbers going down at all," Looker said. "I'm concerned about parking. It's going to be challenging to deal with the number of people who drive back (to the marina)."

The nest is on private property in Heidelberg Township, close to the park. The pair of eaglets in it hatched March 24 and 25 after a rough early spring that included their mother being buried entirely under snow as she sat on her eggs and protected them.

Flock of fans: As temperatures have warmed, eagle enthusiasts have flocked to the Hanover-area park.

"People want to see a different view of what they've already been watching (online)," Looker said.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission's online "eagle cam" live-streaming video has about 11.8 million viewers worldwide, according to Looker.

But the camera angle — which is up-close-and-personal — doesn't change, and it doesn't show all the other wildlife in the area, said Hanover birding expert Karen Lippy.

"There's so much to see from that one spot," Lippy said of the marina viewing area, which is three-quarters of a mile from the eagle nest and even closer to an osprey nest.

There are common loons migrating through the area, and this weekend bird watchers also got to see American coots, horned grebes and double-crested cormorants, she said. Some people at the park Sunday watched as one of the adult eagles bathed at the water's edge, and others watched as osprey chased, each other, apparently fighting over the osprey nest, according to Lippy.

Brief window: But the nest itself might not be visible for much longer from the marina viewing area.

"In two weeks, when the leaves are on the trees, you may not be able to see much anymore," Lippy said.

But for now, the bird-watching is spectacular, she said.

Lippy said she and two other local birding volunteers, Connie and Mike Myers, were at the marina viewing area from noon till 8 p.m. Sunday. They set up spotting scopes for adults and kids; provided binoculars for the throng of visitors to use; and answered people's questions when Looker wasn't at the site. Looker conducted a program there Sunday morning as well, Lippy said.

"We're creating an entire generation of bird-watchers," Lippy said. "So many positive things are happening because of this (eagle) camera."

Lots to learn: For example, she said, school teachers are using the eagle cam in classes to teach students about the raptors — and because of that, many of the youths who come to the marina viewing area are able to answer adults' questions about the eagles.

Fostering an interest in York County's eagle family will hopefully lead to people thinking more about what they can do to help the species, such as not using pesticides like rat poison, and avoiding using lead shotgun pellets, Looker said.

Those who shoot animals with lead shot can help protect birds of prey and other meat-eating animals from neurological damage by burying both vermin and gut piles of game animals being harvested, she said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.