Game warden, US Steel employees rescue bald eagle; bird’s sibling helped rescuers find it


Employees of US Steel Irvin Works and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rescued a juvenile bald eagle in the vicinity of its nest on the steel plant’s grounds in West Mifflin.

One of two young bald eagles raised at the aerie below the US Steel plant along the Monongahela River took its first flight and accidentally knocked its siblings off a branch on Sunday.

A live webcam installed by PixCams of Murrysville caught all of the action.

The webcam documented one young eagle flying away while the other was knocked off the branch and dropped down to a lower branch.

The young eagle that didn’t fly hadn’t been flapping its wings and practicing as much as his sibling, said Don German, manager of the US Steel Irvin Works.

The eagle disappeared for a while then was seen on camera sitting on a branch near the webcam. PixCams worked with the steel company to pull the feed capturing the whereabouts of the young bird.

Footage on Monday showed multiple failed attempts by the eagle to fly.

“In some of the close-ups, you could see that the tail feathers were really ratty, and it lost about six of its primary feathers,” German said.

The webcam was a “divine intervention,” German said.

The mill sent the images to an animal rehabber who confirmed the bird was missing flight feathers and could be having problems.

US Steel officials alerted the Game Commission, and Game Warden Denton Schellhammer arrived Monday evening to work with German to capture the bird.

The men first searched the grounds around the nest tree and came up empty.

The steep hillside and cliffs made for a “very arduous hour and a half,” Schellhammer said of the rescue effort.

Then they noticed that the juvenile eagle that could fly had stayed perched high in a tree up the hill from the nest the entire time the men searched for its sibling.

Courtesy of US Steel Irvin Works/PixCams

A young bald eagle was found perching near its sibling that couldn’t fly on Monday, June 27.

“We walked toward where the eagle was perched and saw flapping in the brush near where the other juvenile was,” German said.

Schellhammer said, “There was a reason the bird hadn’t left — it saw the other bird.”

German added, “It was a miracle.”

The captured men the bird handily and secured it in a carrier Monday evening. Schellhammer said the bird’s body was in good condition and had no broken bones.

After an examination by an animal rehabber, the young eagle should make a full recovery, German said Tuesday.

The young eagle lost six primary feathers and all of its tail feathers, he said. The bird will stay at an unnamed rehab facility with expert care until its feathers grow in, German said.

The process will take about a year when the bird, hopefully, will be released in the wild.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, mthomas@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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