Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

People who started as strangers have become friends, spending every weekend on a portion of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, gazing upward.

Audubon Society of Western Pa. / PixController

A third egg has been spotted in the Pittsburgh nest of a pair of bald eagles.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania says the third egg was spotted Saturday afternoon. The eagles laid the first egg more than a week ago and the second last Tuesday. The eggs typically hatch about 35 days after they are laid.

Two years ago, the pair raised three eaglets. But last year, the eagles lost both eggs and then left the nest, prompting residents to place flowers and signs of encouragement at a memorial.

Martin Pettitt / Flickr

Experts will join new and experienced bird watchers expecting to identify 80 species and 29,000 individual kinds of birds in the Pittsburgh region during a one-day count.

The birds will be documented during the annual “Christmas Bird Count.”

 “There is no estimation whatsoever,” said Brian Shema, operations director at the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “People are physically counting those birds. We do not take any estimates of anything. What we miss, we miss. And what we count, we document.”

The Saturday after Christmas, flocks of area volunteers will scour the region tallying birds as part of the 115th Christmas Bird Count Report.

The annual event organized by the Audubon Society boasts the longest-standing citizen science project. Last year 183 residents Pittsburgh area residents traveled 181 miles by foot and 250 by car to count 66 species and 46,577 birds.

Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania operations director Brian Shema said the 115-year-long data set provides a clear picture of the region’s birds.

Get your binoculars ready, because the 114th annual Christmas bird count is set for Dec. 28 in Pittsburgh.

Before 1900, the Christmas “Side Hunt” was a popular American tradition where participants competed to see who could shoot and kill the most fowl. In opposition to the practice, ornithologist Frank Chapman created the Christmas Bird Census.

In its first year, 27 bird watchers from cities such as Toronto and Pacific Grove, California tallied about 90 bird species.