Bald Eagle population expands on the Channel Islands

Over two million eagle enthusiasts watched the bald eagles up close. Photo by Dr. Peter Sharpe

The bald eagle breeding season this year has been the most productive since the restoration efforts began in 1980. A record 20 breeding pairs successfully reared 19 bald eagle chicks across five Channel Islands.

“This has been the best breeding season since I began working on the bald eagle restoration project over 21 years ago. The number of breeding pairs has increased from only three in 1997 to 20 this year,” said Dr. Peter Sharpe with the Institute for Wildlife Studies. “On Santa Cruz Island we had two nests that each produced three chicks, something that is not commonly seen on the Channel Islands.”

The overall tally of fledged chicks includes 11 from six nests on Santa Cruz Island, two from one nest on Santa Rosa Island, five from four nests on Santa Catalina Island, and one on San Clemente Island. New nest sites were discovered on Santa Rosa Island at East Point and on Santa Cruz Island at Yellowbanks.

Recent sightings of bald eagles from the Channel Islands have increased throughout California with birds seen in Orange, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Bernardino Counties and were spotted as far north as Washington and British Columbia.

Over two million eagle enthusiasts watched the bald eagles up close via live webcams provided by Explore Annenberg and the Institute for Wildlife Studies on Santa Catalina and Santa Cruz Island this year. To view the bald eagle webcams visit or

Bald eagles disappeared from the Channel Islands in the 1960’s due to the effects of DDT and human disturbance. Today, there are about 60 resident bald eagles on the Channel Islands.

The Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife species, is involved in conservation projects around the world. IWS has conducted bald eagle restoration on Catalina Island for nearly 40 years.

The Explore Annenberg LLC is a charitable, nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the selfless acts of others, create a portal for the education of humanity and inspire lifelong learning. Explore uses the power of the internet, images, music, dialogue and the written word to fulfill its mission. Explore offers a portal for public viewing of live video and live webcams at

Land owners that support restoration efforts include the National Park Service (NPS) as the manager on five of the eight California Channel Islands, The Nature Conservancy who jointly owns and manages Santa Cruz Island with the NPS, the Catalina Island Conservancy for Catalina Island, and the U.S. Navy on San Clemente Island.

Montrose Settlements Restoration Program (MSRP), a multi-agency program dedicated to restoring natural resources harmed by DDTs and PCBs released into the environment in southern California, funded bald eagle restoration efforts. MSRP is overseen by representatives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Lands Commission, and California Department of Parks and Recreation.

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