Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 8:03 am | Fair 50º


Bald Eagle Reality Show Plays Out on Channel Islands

Webcam monitors four pairs nesting on Santa Cruz Island, and Anacapa Island hosts its first nest in more than 60 years

They were the reality stars of the bald eagle Webcam located in open book-shaped Pelican Canyon on Santa Cruz Island. Known as K10 and K26, the bald eagles have been successful in jump-starting the new wave of bald eagles replenishing Channel Islands National Park.

From 2006 through 2010, the raptors not only naturally hatched the first bald eagle chick in more than 50 years on the chain, they’ve also had several other successful nests following that first nest. This year, however, the pair ditched their nest of five years and searched out another site. This sent biologists from the Institute for Wildlife Studies into a frenzy to relocate their popular Webcam.

At first it looked as if the pair picked a nest site above scenic Potato Harbor. They soon abandoned that site and settled at a remote site on the sheer cliffs overlooking Twin Harbors, a site deemed too remote to set up another Webcam.

“For about a week we didn’t know where they went,” said Yvonne Menard, spokeswoman for Channel Islands National Park. “The nest site they’re in now is too steep and it doesn’t have a good angle. It wasn’t feasible to set up a Webcam.”

But there are four other pairs nesting on Santa Cruz Island, and biologists were able to set up a Webcam at Sauces Canyon in the interior of the island just in time for viewers to watch two chicks hatch.

In 2010, the bald eagle Webcam connected more than 160,000 visitors from more than 145 countries worldwide, and generated 1.5 million hits. These viewers keep a daily watch over the raptors and contribute to the biologists’ monitoring efforts. Click here for your own peek through the Webcam.

“Biologists do monitor Webcam comments by visitors,” Menard said. “There is fluid and regular communications between biologists and visitors.”

There were two active nests on Santa Rosa Island, but unfortunately neither of those nests is viable now. However, there’s good news to report on Anacapa Island. For the first time in more than 60 years, a bald eagle pair has established a nest with two eggs ready to hatch. The nest is lodged in a tree on West Anacapa Island.

Before 2006, the last known successful nesting of a bald eagle pair on the northern Channel Islands was in 1950 on Santa Rosa Island. Bald eagles disappeared from the archipelago by the early 1960s because of human impacts, primarily DDT and PCB contamination in the pelagic food web. The effects of the chemicals caused bald eagles to lay thin-shelled eggs that either dehydrate or break in the nest.

Beginning in 2002, the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, the IWS and other agencies combined their efforts to bring bald eagles back to the northern chain. Twelve bald eaglets per year for five consecutive years were released on Santa Cruz Island. There are currently 34 eagles residing on the islands, re-establishing old territory. Funds came from the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program after court settlements to restore natural resources such as the bald eagle.

Noozhawk contributor and local freelance writer Chuck Graham is editor of Deep magazine.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >