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Contact: Yvonne Menard, 805-658-5725
Today brings the return to the wild of the second of the two bald eagle chicks that were injured during an attack by a sub-adult bald eagle at Pelican Harbor on Santa Cruz Island on May 19, 2008.
This attack was observed live by hundreds of enthusiasts via the Channel Islands Live EagleCAM. The webcam captured the two eagle chicks as they were unexpectedly taken from their nest and dropped over 30 feet to the ground below.
The EagleCAM watchers notified biologists, prompting the chicks’ rescue. Thousands more followed this story as a video clip of the incident became a most watched feature on YouTube in the following weeks. The sub-adult intruder responsible for this attack has not been identified.
One of the eagle chicks suffered a cracked beak in the assault while the other had a broken wing. Both eaglets were taken to a veterinary facility in Orange County for treatment under the care of Dr. Scott Weldy.
In early June the eaglet with the cracked bill, known as A64 by biologists and named Spirit by EagleCAM watchers, was released to a “hack tower” on Santa Cruz Island and monitored by Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS) biologists until it was ready to fledge. On July 1, 2008, two days after the hack tower door was lowered, the eagle took its first flight. His movements are tracked using a satellite transmitter.
Today, the eagle with the broken wing, known as A65 and called Skye by enthusiasts, will be returned to Santa Cruz Island. Biologists hope it will fledge from the “hack tower” within two to four weeks.
Dr. Peter Sharpe with IWS explained how pins and wire were uses to heal A65s broken wing. “Now that the pins have been removed this eagle is ready to return to the wild,” said Sharpe. “We watch the bird’s wing movements to determine when it is ready to fly.”
Regan Nelson and her third grade students from Lemonwood School in Oxnard will be at the Channel Islands National Park visitor center to wish the eagle well prior to its return to the island. These students were devastated by the attack on the two eagle chicks, having observed and studied their behavior and recorded daily observations on the EagleCAM discussion board since the chicks hatched in early April. The children have been faithfully following the birds’ recovery and even sent get well cards to the veterinary facility.
Today, nearly 40 bald eagles are in Channel Islands National Park as a result of the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP) that released 61 eagles between 2002 and 2006. This spring there were four nests established on the northern Channel Islands, three on Santa Cruz Island, and one on Santa Rosa Island. Only two of the nests produced chicks, including this nest at Pelican Harbor. On Catalina Island five nests have produced seven young eaglets this spring.
For More Information
The EagleCAM is one of a number of educational opportunities offered as part of Channel Islands Live (CHIL), a cooperative partnership between Channel Islands National Park and Ventura County Office of Education. The EagleCAM and associated discussion board can be found at: http://chil.vcoe.org/eagle_cam.htm.
To see video of the nest incident go to: www.nps.gov/chis.
The bald eagle restoration efforts on the Channel Islands are funded by the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP), a multi-agency government program dedicated to restoring natural resources harmed by DDTs and PCBs released into the environment. Further information on MSRP can be found at: www.montroserestoration.gov.
The Institute for Wildlife Studies, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife species, has conducted bald eagle restoration on Catalina Island for over 25 years, as well as efforts on the northern islands within Channel Islands National Park. For links to webcams on Catalina and Santa Cruz Islands go to: www.iws.org.