Nesting Bald Eagles on Channel Islands

There’s a bunch of “firsts” for bald eagles taking place on the Channel Islands these days.

Number one: an eagle pair has nested on Anacapa Island, located 13 miles from the coastline off Ventura. This hasn’t happened in 60 years. Then, there a set of triplets were born to a proud eagle parents on Catalina Island – the first time in more than six decades. What is making these birds so happy and fertile? Probably because DDT is not an added ingredient in their daily snacking.

For years, the white-headed birds found a sanctuary on the islands; but when the Montrose Chemical Corporation dumped 100 tons of DDT into the ocean from 1940s until 1971, the chemicals migrated up the food chain and consequently, the eagle’s egg shells were affected — too thin and delicate, eggs would crack before babies were fully formed. Soon, bald eagles became non-existent on the islands.

According to writer Melissa Palmer of the South Bay Pipeline:

In 2002, a restoration effort re-introduced eaglets — from Alaska and other breeding program — to the islands. The first eggs hatched successfully in 2006. Now there are a dozen breeding pairs.

Those developments mark continuing success for a recovery effort launched in 2002 by the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, which is the product of a decade of litigation against the former Harbor Gateway-based Montrose Chemical Corporation….Underwater cleanup efforts — overseen by the EPA — are just getting underway, more than 40 years later.

We’re happy for baldies and babies – and we’re waiting patiently — tapping our feet — for that cleanup effort to get on the fast track.

As we wait, we can catch the latest reality show involving the bald eagle family of Sauces Canyon on Santa Cruz Island. Recently, the National Park Service installed a webcam near the parent’s huge stick nest – and this sneak peek into the secret life of raptors fulfills our latent voyeuristic needs.  Go Number 40!!!

— BR