Bald eagles have increased their range in the Channel Islands off the coast of California, where an official said that a nesting pair was located on San Clemente Island for the first time in more than 50 years, says a report from NPS. This indicates that bald eagles are once again forming their territories on five of the eight islands in the chain, and experts anticipate their return on all eight islands over the next several years.
Bald eagles vanished due to excessive use of insecticides
In the year 1960, bald eagles vanished from the islands due to the increasing use of the insecticide DDT, which caused thinning of the birds’ eggshells, causing them to easily break.
Dr. Peter Sharpe, who has dedicated his 18 years to bald eagle recovery efforts with the Institute for Wildfire studies, stated, “This news is very gratifying. I expect to see bald eagles return to all eight of the Channel Islands within a few years which will mark yet another milestone in their successful recovery.”
Jane Hendron, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said that although there are no chicks in the San Clemente nest, it is satisfying to know that eagles are living on most of the islands. According to officials, 61 chicks have been released on the Northern Channel Island under the eagle reestablishment effort that began in 2002.
The breeding was done in captivity, but the latest spotting marks the first natural chick hatch on Santa Cruz Island for the first time in over 50 years. Hendron said that they are not carrying on the breeding anymore, as they have had successful natural hatchings.
Restoration program successful
The two birds that build the nest have their origin somewhere between the Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands. The female is a ten-year old eagle known as A-32, who hatched in a nest in Juneau, Alaska in 2004. Under the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, the female was released on Santa Cruz Island that same year. The male bald eagle is 7seven years old and was born at an artificial incubation facility on Santa Catalina Island and then was placed into the nest at Twin Rocks.
The Montrose Settlement Restoration Program is a multi–agency program funded by the court settlement and is aimed toward reestablishing natural resources harmed by DDTs and PCBs released in the environment in southern California.