American bald eagles take nest in Antrim Township

PAT FRIDGEN
An American bald eagle pair entertained some Antrim Township residents over the summer and fall and also multiplied. Barry Hartle photographed one of the eagles in the huge nest with two eaglets.

Antrim Township resident Barry Hartle took photos of bald eagles in May, but he didn’t release them until fall. He wanted to protect the integrity of the nest until the two eaglets could fly.

Hartle spotted the nest in a sycamore tree along the Conococheague Creek. From a cliff on the other side, he was able to take pictures with a Canon digital camera over two days. The male was initially present as he observed from 75 yards out.

“He was screeching around, trying to get me away,” Hartle said.

He is hopeful the pair settled and will return next year. The nest was estimated at 12 feet across. After the majestic birds took flight across the water and fields of the township in the late summer and fall, more people sighted the little family. Hartle is grateful he is among them.

“I never thought I’d see one in my lifetime.”

Among others who saw the nesting pair was Felicia Hollingshead of West Weaver Road. While kayaking the Conococheague with her daughter Lorraine Armstrong, they saw the nest, which was characterized as "huge". At home on Sept. 10, Hollingshead saw one eagle land in the backyard at noon, and both were there at 4:30 p.m. Her husband Justin had shot a groundhog but been unable to dispose of the carcass due to the rain.

"The eagles decided to take care of it for us," she said. She took pictures from about 200 yards.

The family watched the birds in flight and enjoyed being able to witness them in their natural state.

The Department of the Interior took the bald eagle off the endangered species list in 2007, but it is still protected under federal law.

Eagles may or may not migrate, so you never know when you may still see one in Antrim Township in 2011.

Felicia Hollenshead captured the pair in her yard on Sept. 10.