Once a rare sight, bald eagles recently have been spotted all across Lycoming County. Over the last several months, the Sun-Gazette has received notifications from many readers who have reported seeing a bald eagle in the wild.
Reports have come in from a variety of locations, including Woodland Avenue in the city, Susquehanna State Park near Newberry and Little Pine State Park in Cummings Township.
Keen-eyed residents can expect to see even more bald eagles as fall progresses and the nation's iconic bird begins migrating south toward warmer climates.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE BERGEN
A number of readers have been reporting sightings of bald eagles near Williamsport and in the region in recent weeks. This photo was submitted by Joe Bergen, of Log Run Road, who said he spotted the raptor perched above Lycoming Creek between Ralston and Canton about a week ago.
"Eagles, like most raptors, migrate south once the weather starts becoming cooler. They tend to start moving around this time of year, south toward Hawk Mountain down into Schuylkill County," said David Carlini, information and education supervisor for the state Game Commission's northcentral regional office.
Once listed as an endangered species, the bald eagle population has been steadily on the rise across the nation. It is estimated that there are more than 200 nesting wild pairs in Pennsylvania alone.
"Recently, the bald eagle status has been changed from 'endangered' to 'threatened' in Pennsylvania," Carlini said.
Bird-watching novices should note that both male and female bald eagles have similar coloring. However, females usually are about 25 percent larger than their male counterparts.
Though eagles do not flock in large groups, bald eagles are a pair-bonding species of bird, much like swans. Once a male has found his ideal mate, he will stay with her for life.
"Ordinarily they will travel in pairs. However, very young eagles will sometimes move around together," Carlini said.
Bald eagles prefer to nest in an area near water, with an abundant food supply. According to Carlini, an eagle pair will use the same nest year after year, as long as food and water remain abundant.
Bald eagles make one of the largest nests of any bird in North America, sometimes weighing up to 1 metric ton. An ideal eagle nesting ground needs mature trees with strong limbs that can support the weight.
According to Carlini, many bald eagles have found homes in the state's national forests, where large trees and natural springs remain protected.