Second Generation Bald Eagle Chick Hatches on the Channel Islands
Bald Eagle nesting season on the Channel Islands is upon us again! Last year’s season brought an exciting new milestone and biologists observed more chicks fledging (flying away from their nest) than in the previous year.
In 2013, for the first time, a second generation Bald Eagle chick, marked by biologists as A-89, successfully flew away from its nest on Santa Cruz Island! The eaglets’ mother, A-49, was the first Bald Eagle to hatch on the Channel Islands naturally in over 50 years back in 2006. A-49 hatched shortly after the Bald Eagle Restoration Program began on the northern Channel Islands in 2002. It was a proud moment for biologists to see A-49 raising her own chick this year after she made several attempts to nest in previous years.
Last year, biologists discovered a total of 15 Bald Eagle nesting pairs on 4 of the 8 Channel Islands. These nests hatched 18 chicks with 16 of them fledging. Two more chicks fledged this year than in 2012. We are seeing a slight but steady increase in Bald Eagle chicks on the Channel Islands each year. Bald Eagles nest on the Channel Islands between January and July and chicks begin fledging in June. Bald Eagles are sexually mature by age four or five but it can sometimes take a few years for them to produce a healthy egg or chick.
From 2002 to 2006, MSRP partnered with the Institute for Wildlife Studies to release 61 Bald Eagle juveniles on Santa Cruz Island. Since their release on Santa Cruz Island, the eagles have spread out among the Channel Islands and biologists have documented nesting on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Anacapa, and Catalina Islands. Biologists monitor Bald Eagle nesting and movement patterns annually on the Channel Islands. Learn more about MSRP’s Bald Eagle Restoration Program.
-Gabrielle Dorr, MSRP Outreach Coordinator