A First in 60 Years: Bald Eagle Hatches on Anacapa Island

The recently-hatched eaglet stares into a camera | Photo courtesy of Dr. Peter Sharpe

For the first time in 60 years, a bald eagle has hatched on Anacapa Island off the coast of Ventura County, the National Park Service announced today. The 1.1 square-mile island is known as a major bird rookery for the west coast, but the national bird's presence vanished from Anacapa and the surrounding Channel Islands in the early 1960s, primarily due to DDT and PCB contamination.

"This new milestone with a bald eagle chick on Anacapa Island is very exciting," said Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau. "Bald eagles are now breeding on four of the eight Channel Islands that they occupied historically."

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The chick was discovered on Tuesday. | Video by Dr. Peter Sharpe

Nesting is currently taking place on Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa--all which are within the National Park--and Santa Catalina, the privately held island with two small cities and thousands of acres of preserved open space. Santa Barbara and San Miguel--also within the National Park--and San Clemente and San Nicholas--both military-controlled--still have no nesting activity.

More on Birds at Channel Islands

Video: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands Travel/Photos: Bird Season on Anacapa
Today's news is also believed to be the first successful hatching of a bald eagle in Ventura County since 1949, when the last known eaglet pecked through its egg on Anacapa (the remaining islands in the National Park in Santa Barbara County).

Of the 13 active nests on the Channel Islands this season, 12 chicks, eight of them on Catalina, successfully hatched (two additional ones died on Santa Rosa). In total, 60 to 70 bald eagles are known to live on the islands, thanks to restoration efforts that began in 2002 to re-introduce them.

Both Anacapa parents, originally from Alaska, were part of that program and were released on the neighboring Santa Cruz Island. Their nest is on the western part of the island in a remote canyon, inaccessible to public view. Two eggs were discovered in March, but the status of the second one is unknown.

Hatchlings and their parents on the neighboring Santa Cruz Island, as seen by the Channel Islands Live Bald Eagle Webcam | Image Courtesy NPS

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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