CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The tale of Whitey and Streaky, two New River Gorge eagles who recently flew into the spotlight after the male survived being hit a train, again turned tragic.
The pair of eagles was guarding a nest holding two eggs when an Amtrak train hit Whitey, the male, on St. Patrick's Day.
The pair of eagles is nesting about 60 feet off the ground in a tree on an island in the New River. The nest is along W.Va. 20 between Brooks and Sandstone in Summers County.
Although Whitey has returned and appears to be no worse for wear, the nest has failed, said Wendy Perrone, executive director of the Three Rivers Avian Center.
"There are now no eggs in the nest," she said.
Perrone is unsure exactly when the two eggs were removed from the nest, or what happened to the clutch.
"We didn't see anything we could point to," Perrone said. "All we know for sure is that there aren't two eggs in the nest any longer."
It is possible one of the eagles ate the eggs once it became clear they would not hatch this season, she said.
"Sometimes they lay eggs that are infertile," Perrone said.
Although the loss of the eggs is sad, Perrone does not believe it's a sign of serious concern for the state's eagle population.
She and others at the center believe other nests in the area will produce hatchlings this year.
"We're obviously saddened by the loss, but in the grand scheme of things we think everything will be fine," she said.
Twenty-five birds were counted in the New River Gorge in January, Perrone said.
Perrone thinks Whitey and Streaky will nest in the same location next year. The two have remained in the area even though their eggs are gone.
"They may be gone for hours at a time now, but they still come back and sit on the nest next to each other," she said.