Reality TV: The Eagle Has Landed

MarryingMinda Crop to UseWell, they’re not called anything Kardashian and you won’t see them on E-TV, but K-10 and K-26 are making headlines around the world and are visible 24/7 on a live webcam.

 Who are they? Santa Cruz Island

They’re American bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) about to become parents. On February 26, they laid their first egg at Pelican Harbor on Santa Cruz Island, off California’s coast  not far from my homestead.  Egg #2 came about on March 3. The parents have mated for life and will come back to this nest year after year.

These birds represent the first generation of naturally raised bald eagles in the Channel Islands in 50 years. The last “wild” bald eagle was seen on Santa Cruz in 1949.Channelislandsca

1949?  Yep. The bald eagle population of these islands was wiped out by DDT poisoning. After a long hard fight and much tender loving care, on June 28, 2007, bald eagle fledgling A-63 took flight on Santa Cruz the same day the federal government was able to take this magnificent bird off the endangered list. When I watched the video of this flight at our county fair, I had tears streaming down my face.

It’s been a long time coming.soaring-bald-eagles_111

The bald eagles of Channel Islands are truly Survivors. In 2002, the Institute for Wildlife Studies re-introduced the bald eagle to Santa Cruz Island. Eaglets hatched at the San Francisco Zoo were placed  in “hacking towers” at 8 weeks of age.  Hacking is the technique of raising young birds in the wild by human hands. It worked.

Today there are 7 nesting eagle pairs on Santa Cruz Island. When the hatchlings are about 7 weeks old, scientists will tag them and assign them numbers but not names. The Institute for Wildlife Studies will name the babies. Cruz, Lemuw, Spirit, and Sky are past eaglet names.Eagle_t300

This group has been working hard to restore the eagles to the islands, and their web-camera is one of the best fundraisers for the non profit organization. For the past five years, people around the world including countless schoolchildren follow the events of the nest on live camera stream.

If you’d like to witness a miracle, click here:

The only eagles found exclusively on the North American continent, the bald eagles are true “native Americans, ranging from Alaska to the northern border of Mexico and from Pacific to Atlantic coast. Adult males weigh about 7 to 10 pounds with a wingspan of about 6 feet. Female adults are heavier at 14 pounds, with 8-foot wingspans. They can live about 30 years.

Bald eagles build their nests in large trees near a river or coast. These large nests start out about 5 feet in diameter but build up to as much as ten feet after years of nesting. Mom lays 2 to 3 eggs and shares nesting duties with Dad during the 35-day incubation period. adult eagles return

About three months later, the eaglets fly, hunt, and tend themselves. Of course they’re not “bald”. It’s the white crown that gives them the name and makes them so recognizable. These white head feathers, along with the white tail feathers, do not appear until the eagle is about four years old. These magnificent birds are protected under the National Emblem Act of 1940 and cannot be hunted, harassed, or sold.

Interestingly, this majestic bird fought hard for its place as our national symbol. When the Great Seal of the United States was adopted on June 20, 1782, the bird received unofficial but by no means widespread approval. In January 1784, Benjamin Franklin stated, ” The bald eagle…is a bird of bad moral character…the turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

Little did he know!eagle_turkeyseal Can you imagine a seal like the one here? 

In 1789, when George Washington became the first president, the American bald eagle became the official bird. President John F. Kennedy later wrote: “The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the bald eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America.”

Watching a bald eagle in fight is high on my bucket list. In the mean time I‘m checking out the webcam, and hope you’ll do the same!Great seal of the USA

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29 thoughts on “Reality TV: The Eagle Has Landed”

  1. Hi Tanya! I love the Channel Islands! I once went camping on Anacapa and still remember the isolation, the crash of the waves, the pure air. Santa Cruz Island is further out. What a perfect place for the eagles.

    Oh man…. I’m missing California so bad right now! I lived for eight years in Pine Mountain Club. We’d occasionally saw California Condors, another amazing and endangered species. Someday I’m going to use them in book!

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

  2. Good Morning Tanya, I love this post.As you know I love anything that deals with animals for they are a sacred connection to us and to the Mother Earth.

    I have never been to this area but I plan on visiting it now for sure.

    The Eagles represents “Spirit” and the Hawk represents “The Messenger” so this post I will hold dear to my heart.

    Thanks for putting the link to the Eagle Webcam. I will visit it everyday

    Walk in harmony,

  3. Hi Vicki, thanks for your enthusiasm! As close we are, we still haven’t taken a day trip to the islands in all thee years. But now that we have a grandson, it’s something we plan to go with him when he’s a bit older.

    THe condors have made such a terrific comback. It breaks my heart that our animals and natural resources have to work so hard and “suffer” so due to “progress.”

    I think the eagle-cam is so amazing! oxoxoxoxox

  4. Hi Melinda, always so good to have you at the junction. I knew you would love these eagles. Isn’t the eagle-cam something? In a way I wish I were still sub-teaching so I could have it as a back-up lesson. The schoolkids are loving this all over the world!

    Thanks for coming by today, and so glad you liked the post and link. oxoxoxoxox

  5. Wonderful blog Tanya,and a good reminder of what these magnificent birds have survived. Our lake is a winter stop for bald eagles. We’ve even had them fishing in front of our condo. This winter, one caught a fish and landed on the edge of the ice surrounding our dock to eat. I forget just how big they are!

  6. Hey, I’m watching that eagle right now. That’s so cool.

    I wish that egg would hatch right in front of me. 🙂

    I’ll add here that DDT harming Eagles and eagle eggs has proved to be a myth.

    Here’s a piece of the news story.

    One of the most notorious DDT “factoids” is that it thinned bird egg shells. But a 1970 study published in Pesticides Monitoring Journal reported that DDT residues in bird egg shells were not correlated with thinning. Numerous other feeding studies on caged birds indicate that DDT isn’t associated with egg shell thinning.

    In the few studies claiming to implicate DDT as the cause of thinning, the birds were fed diets that were either low in calcium, included other known egg shell-thinning substances, or that contained levels of DDT far in excess of levels that would be found in the environment – and even then, the massive doses produced much less thinning than what had been found in egg shells in the wild.

    You can read the rest of it here
    This myth is so widely taught and widely excepted no one even realizes it’s been debunked.

    And it wouldn’t even matter because we’ve found other insecticides that work fine in America a wealthy country but DDT was inexpensive, it was used increasingly in poorer countries like Africa. Now though, it’s so controversial many countries are afraid of it.

    Around 1 million people die of malaria every year. 90 percent in Africa, most under age 5. DDT could be preventing many of those deaths since using it stamped out 99% of the malaria in Europe, American and India before it was banned for a false reason…thin bald eagle eggs. But many countries won’t use it, scared by the junk science that has made it so controversial.

  7. Hi Tracey, that must have been something to see. Wow. I Wish I had a lake wintering stop close enough to watch all of this! We’re going on a city-slicker wagon train trip around the Tetons in August and I sure hope I get to see one fly.

    Thanks for posting today! xoxoxoxoxo

  8. Hi Tanya – stopping by to say hello and wish everyone a Happy St. Paddy’s Day. My corned beef is boiling as we speak. I’m blogging about it today at Desire.

    Loved the pictures of the American Bald Eagle. I have to say, the founding fathers were so right. What a majestic, proud, strong bird to represent our country!! I’m going to stop by that link and see the nest. How cool!!

  9. Hi Mary, thanks for posting and for the link. I can’t wait see see the hatchlings, either. I just love the whole concept of being able to see them and not intruding.

    Well, all I can say is, the Wildlife Institute feels DDT wiped out the bald eagles of the Channel Islands. And I believe Rachel Carson was soundly ridiculed for positing something like this. Anyway, the IWS is composed of scientists, which I’m definitely not. Maybe they’ve learned something else since 1970. Something did happen to kill them off, and I am soooo glad to see them back! Yay. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. oxoxoxoxoxox

  10. Hi Charlene, I can almost smell your yumm-o corned beef! I think we’re going to celebrate at a pub tonight. I’ll wear the Guinness T-shirt Christi brought from Dublin. (with green beads as it’s done in black and tan LOL). She actually was in Ireland for St. Pat’s a while back and said the celebration there is quite a bit different.

    I too think the bald eagle is the perfet symbol for our country. And to think Franklin nominated the wild turkey! Not that it isn’t a great native bird too…but an eagle soaring is just too beautiful an image. Thanks for posting! oxoxoxoxoxox

  11. Tanya, love your blog! I’m in awe of the majestic qualities of the bald eagle. There’s no other bird like them. I’m not 100% certain, but I think I heard where it’s against the law to have even an eagle feather. The federal govt. really protects them. How neat that you live fairly close their nesting grounds. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you can witness one of them in flight.

  12. Hi Linda, thanks for posting! I have also heard the same thing. When CHristi was little and a Girl Scout, she had a week-long summer day camp I helped chaperone. We had a native American chief visit and I believe he told us that. Although he could have one for ceremonial use, I think. oxoxoxoxo

  13. Boy, Tanya and Mary, too, I learned something with both of your posts. May those beautiful creatures thrive and survive. Beautiful photos, Tanya and a very important piece of information. 🙂

  14. Again very interesting. I have seen a bald eagle in flight Christmas of 1989 in Nebraska near where I grew up. It glided around and then sat in a tree for quite a long time. It was awesome. It’s good to know they are making a comeback and I hope you see one in flight soon.

  15. Hi Mary, I know. Come on, mom and dad! I’m having serious issues with my PC today…the geek squad is on the way. So I am on hubby’s laptop which needs some sort of update because the eagle-cam comes in all psychedelic. Grrrrrr. Another job for the geeks. oxoxoxxoxoxo

  16. TANYA–absolutely fascinating. Being a biology teacher, I’d heard of and read about the DDT destroying all sorts of wildlife, including the bald Eagle. Remember Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring?” The web cam is brillant! Thank you for the beautiful photos of the area–I’ve never been there, but it is gorgeous. Well done. Celia

  17. Thanks for the info. Tried to view the webcam video, but it didn’t work. We have a Mac so I’ll probably have to figure it out.

    We have been lucky enough to see Bald Eagles around the country. The first place was on the Maine coast in 1972 when the were starting to make their comeback. Have seen them in New York, along the Northwest Coast, in Florida, Virginia and here in Tennessee. Dollywood has an Eagle Rehabilitation program. There is an enclosure in the park with quite a few of them. Most have been injured and will never be able to be released. It is a good way to see them up close and a good teaching tool for conservation of our wild species.

    It has been wonderful seeing the recovery of raptors in general. I can remember when it was rare to see even a hawk. Now it is an everyday occurrence. I am always thrilled at the wide variety in this area. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ignorance and for lack of a better word, stupidity out there. We had a nest of small hawks or kites in our the large oak when we moved here. They came back every spring. Unfortunately, Our neighbor across the street would sit on his porch with his rifle. We have seen him shoot across the street at ground hogs, and I’m afraid he probably shot the hawks too. Illegal, but you have to catch someone doing it. It is sad, really. I don’t mind hunting for food, but killing something just to kill it is a foolish waste and just plain wrong.

  18. Hi Celia, so good to see you at Wildflower Junction. Yes, Silent SPring totally touched my heart. I can’t wait for the eaglets to hatch! Glad you liked the post. Maybe your students can take a peek at the eagle-cam now and again. IT’s a great hit at schools around here.

  19. Hi Patricia, I can’t believe that neighbor of yours. I live in a subdivision but a still-rural county, and we get a red-tailed hawk visitor from time to time. My feelings on hunting are the same as yours, esp. mindless wolf hunts. Wrong-o bong-o.

  20. Hi Mary, thanks so much! I totally agree with you about the heartbreak. Don’t forget to peek in on the eagle nest from time to time! I think hatching date is April 1 for the first one. Yay.

  21. What a great blog, Tanya. I didn’t know the bald eagles were making a comeback on those islands. We get quite a few of them wintering at a big wetlands bird refuge about an hour north of me. I drove up to see them a couple of years ago. They are so beautiful. Hope you get to see some babies soon.

  22. wasn’t there some kind of disaster last year with the eagle cam?
    like the eagles fell out or something?
    i thought i remember hearing about it

    we are lucky up here along the mississippi river that we have a bald eagle watching park–it’s beautiful and you can watch them fish

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