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Peregrine Falcons Move Closer to Recovery on the California Channel Islands

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Date: June 11, 2008
Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725

Brian Latta, Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) biologist, will discuss efforts to reestablish peregrine falcons to the California Channel Islands following their decline from the impacts of DDT at the June “From Shore to Sea” lectures. 

The peregrine falcon, once a common resident on the Channel Islands, was nearly extirpated during a major DDT-induced population decline that affected the North American continent between 1947 and 1972. As a result of reintroduction efforts by SCPBRG, peregrine falcons have reoccupied the islands. However, pollutants continue to be present at levels which cause concern.

Latta will discuss the results of a 2007 survey of peregrine falcons conducted on all eight of the Channel Islands in which biologists monitored breeding activity; banded young; and analyzed eggs, eggshell fragments, blood samples, and prey remains. They found 20 peregrine pairs that successfully hatched 35 young. Additionally, Latta will discuss the prevalence of eggshell thinning still found in peregrine eggs and its impact on their productivity on the northern Channel Islands.

Latta earned his B.S. degree in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis on wildlife at the University of Maryland. He has been a member of the SCPBRG field team since 1989 and lead field biologist since 1993. Latta was also lead biologist on a multi-agency effort to relocate golden eagles from Channel Islands National Park to protect island foxes.

The “From Shore to Sea” lecture series is jointly sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary with generous support from Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. The purpose of the series is to further the understanding of research on the Channel Islands and surrounding waters. The lectures will occur at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way in the Santa Barbara Harbor and Wednesday, June 11, 2008, at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center, 1901 Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. The programs are free and open to the public.

Did You Know?

Island night lizard                                     C. Drost

The only reptile found on Santa Barbara Island is the endemic and threatened island night lizard. These lizards can live up to 20 years or more, but once established in a territory generally remain within a 3-meter radius their entire life.