ONE WITH NATURE
Destination Westmoreland 2019 | 17
that details some of best areas for bird-watching. Some of his
• There are several bald eagle nests that can be observed
throughout the county. One is near Ice Pond off Route 30
just west of Ligonier, where the Loyalhanna Creek flows
around much of the lake. Another nest is located at Beaver
Run Reservoir in the northwest part of the county. Another
location for spotting eagles is on the Conemaugh River. The
Loyalhanna Dam is also a good site, particularly in winter,
when the birds congregate near the outflow in order to fish.
As many as 20 have been sighted at one time in recent years.
• Another bird of prey whose population has rebounded
since the ban of the pesticide DDT, along with the bald
eagle, is the osprey. There is an osprey nest at Donegal Lake
and another at White Thorn Creek close to Route 22 between
New Alexandria and Delmont. Osprey typically lay eggs in
April or May. The eggs hatch after 30 days. Sixty days after
hatching, the young are ready to take flight, according to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The birds can sometimes be
seen hunting at the lake at Keystone State Park, Byers said.
• There are also several heron rookeries located throughout
the county, including one on Loyalhanna Lake, Byers
said. Kayakers report seeing a wide variety of birds along
the Conemaugh River. Some time spent hiking along the
4.5-mile Conemaugh River Lake section of the West Penn
Trail and crossing the large stone arch bridges can yield a
number of observations of birds that fish and live along the
water. Herons are one of the state’s largest birds by height
• For songbird viewing, Byers recommends the Westmoreland
Heritage Trail, particularly the section between
Delmont and Slickville that goes through the Beaver Run
Reservoir area for spotting warblers.
• Westmoreland County is also home to one of the top
bird-banding areas in the country in Powdermill Nature
Reserve and Avian Research Center in Rector. The public is allowed
to visit the bird-banding lab if arrangements are made
ahead of time by calling 724-593-7521. As of late June, they
had banded 109 unique species in 2019. For more information,
as well as photos of some of the birds they’ve banded
over the years, visit powdermillarc.org.
Dale Matuza is another longtime Westmoreland County
bird enthusiast and club member. He’s lived on the eastern
edge of the county near the Turtle Creek Gorge for 40 years.
Even before the Westmoreland Heritage Trail was completed
along the old railroad line, he would walk the tracks and
observe a great variety of wildlife.
“I’ve seen incredible changes,” he said.
For instance, he said, every spring, when they first moved
into the house, they would hear the drumming of ruffed
grouse. That hasn’t been the case in 20 years.
“The woodland itself is changing because it’s maturing,”
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Westmoreland and surrounding counties who are in need of Behavioral
Health Casemanagement Services, Intellectual and Developmental
Disabilities Supports Coordination, Early Intervention Services,
and Out-of-School Youth Services (Westmoreland/Fayette counties).
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community. Please contact us for more information.
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