In a nest along Pittsburgh's Monongahela River, two of three bald eagle eggs hatched this weekend, underscoring the success of recovery efforts to bring the birds back to an area they likely haven't inhabited in more than 250 years.
Live webcam footage of the eagle pair and their hatchlings kept many viewers around the world glued to their computers a month after the eggs were laid, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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The first eagle chick began pecking out of its shell around 11 a.m. Friday and hatched fully around 4:30 p.m. Webcam engineer PixController Inc., which is working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, captured the entire event as the chick emerged about the size of a tennis ball.
"People who are not even birders are thrilled," Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's executive director Jim Bonner told FoxNews.com
. "It’s awe-inspiring to see this magnificent creature return. The American bald eagle is in our psyche — we've heard about it since childhood. Everyone can identify."
The eagle family is one of three spread out among Pittsburgh's major rivers, the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio.
With numbers falling as low as about 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states, bald eagles were first listed as endangered in 1967.
In the 18th century, fuel and lumber demands destroyed many trees in the Pittsburgh area where eagles commonly nested. Later, industrialization polluted the rivers heavily, killing the fish and wildlife on which the eagles thrived. Finally, an accumulation of the pesticide DDT across the nation was found to have been weakening the shells of the eagles' eggs, causing them to break prematurely.
Since then, many of these problems have been addressed, and the species recovered. Bald eagles were removed from the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list in 2007. Of the 140,000 bald eagles alive today, half of them live in Alaska, but the bird can be found in warmer climates like Florida as well.
The bald eagle is unique to North America, and was partly chosen as America's national bird for this reason.
The live footage of the Monongahela River eagles can be viewed at Pixcontroller.com/eagles
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