Eagle Chicks Hatch Early on Santa Cruz Island

The hatching is the earliest known arrival of a bald eagle chick on the Channel Islands

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two eagle chicks in a nest on Santa Cruz Island are the first arrivals of what looks like a busy nesting season on the Channel Islands.

    The chicks at a nest in Carl Peak probably hatched sometime after March 2, said Dr. Peter Sharpe, of the Institute for Wildlife Studies.

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    "It is the earliest that chicks have hatched in nests, and the earliest laying of eggs, even when we were taking them all on Catalina for artificial incubation," said Dr. Sharpe.

    Expect more activity later this month. As of Wednesday, there were a record 15 breeding eagle pairs on the Channel Islands this season, according to the National Parks Service.

    Incubation time to hatch is usually about 35 days, meaning more eagle chicks are likely to arrive in a few weeks.

    Some of the nests are part of a Channel Islands webcam network. The system of live video feeds features two nests on Santa Catalina Island and two nests on Santa Cruz Island.

    The chicks are part of a comeback story involving an eagle restoration program on the islands. In 2006, the eagle pair at Pelican Harbor on Santa Cruz Island hatched the first bald eagle chick in more than 50 years on the island chain.

    The eagle recovery project began after chemicals contaminated the birds' food supply. All of the islands' bald eagles were wiped out by the early 1960s.

    Millions of pounds of the deadly pesticide DDT and other chemicals were dumped in the ocean between the 1940s and 1970s. The chemicals caused bald eagles to lay thin-shelled eggs that either dehydrate or break in the nest.

    There are now about 60 to 70 eagles living on the Channel Islands, according to the NPS.

     


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