Thursday, January 09, 2014

Bald Eagle Recovery on California Channel Islands

courtesy of Peter Sharp
The return of bald eagles to the California Channel Islands has been a slow but steady effort that has aided the Channel Island fox recovery on the northern islands. A robust bald eagle population keeps away golden eagles, island fox predators.  

Island fox recovery has been incredibly rapid. More typical of efforts to save endangered species, bald eagle conservation has spread across decades: 
  • 1967 bald eagle listed as endangered species
  • 1970s bald eagles become extinct on the Channel Islands
  • 1980 - 1986: 33 young bald eagles are reintroduced to Catalina Islands 
  • 1987: eggs laid by bald eagles on Catalina Island fail to survive because of continuing high levels of DDT in marine ecosystem
  • 1989: bald eagle eggs taken from Catalina Island nests and incubated. Later hatchlings or foster chicks are returned to nests. 
  • 2000 - 2002: juvenile bald eagles reintroduced to the northern Channel Islands 
  • 2006 first chick hatched without human assistance on the Channel Islands in 50 years; female A-49
  • 2007 bald eagle eggs hatch on Catalina Island without human assistance
  • June 2007 bald eagle taken off of the Endangered Species List
  • 2012 Female A-49 nests for the first time on Santa Cruz Island, but first chick does not survive
  • 2013 MILESTONE EVENT - Female A-49 and mate become the parents of female chick A-89 the first second-generation bald eagle chick successfully fledged on the Channel Islands since the beginning of the recovery effort

According to the biologists managing the bald eagle recovery program, fifteen pairs of bald eagles attempted to nest on the Channel Islands last year. See a photo of A-89 and the full accounting of bald eagle nesting on the Channel Islands in 2013 at the Institute for Wildlife Studies.

As a large predatory bird, the bald eagle plays an important role on the California Channel Islands. For more about bald eagle recovery SEE Video: Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands by the Filmmakers Collaborative