Hope For Second Generation Bald Eagles

Biologists band A-49 in 2006.

Historically, Bald Eagles nested and lived among all of the Channel Islands. However, by the early 1960s, Bald Eagles disappeared from the Channel Islands due to human impacts, including the accumulation of DDTs and other contaminants into the environment.  From 2002 to 2006, MSRP partnered with the Institute for Wildlife Studies to release 61 Bald Eagle juveniles on Santa Cruz Island.

In 2006, everyone watched as the first chick to hatch in 50 years on the northern Channel Islands appeared on the eagle webcam at Pelican Harbor via the internet.  Known as “Princess Cruz” by webcam fans and A-49 by project biologists, she fledged and returned this year to Santa Cruz Island as a mature adult building a nest of her own!  It is common for first-year nesters to fail at nesting which is the case for A-49 this season, but biologists are hopeful that she will return next year to try again.  If chicks do hatch in A-49’s nest next year, this would mark the first time natural- hatched birds on the northern Channel Islands parent a second generation of Bald Eagles.

A64 shown in nest waiting for A49 to return.

Each year since the release of Bald Eagles, the nesting activity and number of chicks has increased steadily on the northern Channel Islands. This year, Santa Cruz Island has seven confirmed nests, almost double the number of nests in 2011. Nesting on the other Northern Channel Islands has increased over the years as well.  There are two confirmed nests on Santa Rosa Island again this year and one on Anacapa Island.  The number of nests on Catalina Island is holding steady at six nests with 11 chicks recently hatching.

The Channel Island Bald Eagles have also enjoyed some stardom in the film realm recently after a short film, “Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands,” about the restoration effort was created by Kevin White of Filmmakers Collaborative SF. This film was also selected to screen at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in northern California in 2012. A 30-minute documentary about this restoration program is in production for release in summer or fall of 2012 and will air on PBS’s Natural Heroes in 2013.

Learn more about MSRP’s Bald Eagle Restoration Program

Interactive Webcams

Eagle Webcam Discussion Forum and Updates

Bald Eagle film

-Gabrielle Dorr, MSRP Outreach Coordinator