Breeding bald eagles provided important ecosystem functions in the northern Channel Islands. For example, bald eagles were once the top marine aerial predator and probably fed upon a variety of seabirds and fish. Bald eagles are generally highly territorial, and in the past this behavior may have prevented golden eagles from colonizing the islands.
In 2002, with funding from the Montrose Trustees Restoration Program, the park (in conjunction with partner, Institute for Wildlife Studies) began to introduce juvenile bald eagles to the northern Channel Islands. This was done using a technique called “hacking”. Birds of approximately 8 weeks of age were kept in one of two hack towers on Santa Cruz Island until they were ready to fly (at approximately 3 months of age). Sixty-one young bald eagles were introduced to the northern Channel Island between 2002 and 2006.
2006 marked the first successful bald eagle nest on the Channel Islands in over 50 years. In fact, there were two successful nests; both on Santa Cruz Island. One of the nests has a “web cam” and can be watched live during the nesting season.
Today, bald eagles are again an important part of the island ecosystem.
Did You Know?
The Channel Islands are home to the largest breeding colonies of seabirds in southern California.