Catalina Island is now home to the first two baby bald eagles to hatch there successfully in more than 50 years without human help.
The bald eagles at the island, just off the Southern California coast, have not been able to produce chicks on their own because the pesticide DDT has built up in their bodies and thinned their eggs. A large deposit of the pesticide, banned in the United States in 1972, remains sprawled on the ocean floor off Palos Verdes Peninsula and continues to seep into fish and other marine life.
The female eagle who produced the two eggs that hatched is 8 years old, the youngest breeding female on Catalina. She was born at the San Francisco Zoo. Their father is a 21-year-old from British Columbia.
“This is truly a momentous occasion, as this is the first known natural, unaided hatching of a bald eagle chick on Santa Catalina Island since the mid-1940s,” said Peter Sharpe, bald eagle program manager at the Institute for Wildlife Studies, which has conducted the eagle transplant program using federal funds. “While other hatchings may have occurred into the 1950s, no records exist to verify any reproduction.”