Hanover eagle nest partially collapses ahead of cam shutdown

David Weissman

A partial collapse at the Hanover-area eagle's nest has generated some additional interest in online viewing, but state game commission officials said the live stream still likely will be shut down Wednesday.

The Hanover-area eagle nest partially collapsed sometime Tuesday morning, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission officials.

Spokesman Travis Lau said one of the commission's staffers pointed out to him that the nest had partially collapsed sometime Tuesday morning. He's seen chatter on the cam's Facebook fan page about keeping the stream running to see if the eagles attempt to rebuild the nest, but he said the shutdown is still scheduled.

The commission announced Friday on its website that the stream would be shut down Wednesday after an egg laid in the nest during February yielded one eaglet that did not survive. A second egg never hatched.

No chicks this year at Hanover-area eagle nest

Lau noted that, although the commission offers the live stream on its website, most of the costs associated with the project are covered by Comcast and HDOnTap, giving them ultimate control over a potential shutdown.

Lau didn't have exact numbers on viewership, but he said he knew they were down from last year.

Commission staff members haven't seen the eagles on the live stream since the collapse, but Lau said that doesn't necessarily mean they haven't been back. He has no idea what caused the collapse, but he said the commission had noticed a crack in the tree when it installed the second camera earlier this year.

"Nests do tend to come down, particularly if it's been used over and over," Lau said. "Nests can get fairly heavy, as eagles tend to add to nests each year."

According to the commission's website, an active nest was first recorded in this area in 2005, and eaglets have fledged eight times, often two at a time. The commission installed cameras there for the 2014 nesting season, and newer cameras were installed in November 2015.

Lau said some local birdwatchers believe the nest has been there even longer. This is the first time, to his knowledge, that the nest has had any structural collapse.

The first egg had hatched March 28, Lau noted, meaning that if the eaglet had survived, it would have been approximately nine weeks old. Lau wrote in an email that eaglets typically fledge between eight and 14 weeks from hatching.

"It would have been within range where it might have fledged the nest prior to collapse – though it would have been one of those hatchlings to fledge at a young age," Lau wrote. "If it had not fledged at the time of collapse, it still had a reasonable chance to survive a fall or move out of the nest onto other branches in the tree. There’s no saying with any certainty what might have happened."

Last year, the eaglets fledged around June 22, according to the website.

The shutdown will allow the commission to shift its focus and resources to other projects, such as the elk cam, which successfully ran in Elk County between July and September last year but is facing questions this year because of private land ownership, Lau said.