Bald eagles hatch in wild on Catalina

first_imgAnother nest contains eggs that are scheduled to hatch next week. “We may have more good news next week – we hope,” Muscat said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AVALON, Santa Catalina Island – Two bald eagle eggs hatched in the wild on Santa Catalina Island for the first time since chemical contamination there wiped out the majestic birds decades ago, conservation officials said Monday. Biologists spotted the first eaglet Saturday and the second Sunday, according to Catalina Island Conservancy officials. Their eggs were laid last month in a cliff-side nest on the 76-square-mile island, an offshore part of Los Angeles County. “We were shouting and excited and happy when we got the news this morning,” said Ann M. Muscat, president and chief executive of the island’s conservancy. The chicks belong to an 8-year-old female and a 21-year-old male introduced under a program aimed at restoring the island’s bald eagle population. For nearly two decades, biologists have worked to get the adult eagles on Catalina to reproduce without human assistance after contamination from chemical dumping caused their eggs to weaken and dehydrate. The chemicals – DDT and PCBs – decimated the bald-eagle population on Catalina and did tremendous damage to coastal fisheries and seabird populations on the chain of eight Channel Islands off Southern California. The 1940s were the last time a bald-eagle egg hatched in the wild in the chain, Muscat said. More than 30 years after the dumping stopped, there are now 20 bald eagles regularly on Santa Catalina, including five nesting pairs. In the past, their eggs had been so fragile they had to be removed immediately by humans and incubated in captivity. The chicks were then returned to the nests by helicopter about 10 days after hatching, along with a shell from a goose egg to trick the parents. But conservation officials decided to leave eggs in their nests this year. Among other reasons, eggs laid in recent years had lower contamination levels, and the mother was prone to eat fish instead of heavily contaminated marine mammals and sea gulls. last_img read more