Known now as A-49, the first bald eagle chick hatched on the Channel Islands National Park in over 50 years, fledged from its nest on the north end of Santa Cruz Island. After weeks of practice hopping from tree limb to tree limb and feeling the air through its outstretched wings, the young bald eagle soared for the first time on July 14.
The new addition to the northern isles affectionately known as "Cruz" and "Junior" to those viewing the eaglet\’s progress on the publicly broadcast Web camera and the play-by-play posts from an associated discussion board, allowed hundreds of viewers from around the globe to join biologists as they observed the chick showing typical pre-flight behavior over the past two weeks.
"It\’s been a pretty amazing year for bald eagles on the northern Channel Islands," said Dave Rempel, a biologist for the Institute for Wildlife Studies, who has spent long hours monitoring the large nest. "We are thrilled to have been able to share the excitement of watching A-49 grow and fledge with viewers from all over."
A-49 is the tag number placed on the wings of the eaglet, which is also equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) to monitor the raptor\’s comings and goings across the islands. The tag was attached to its wings when the chick was 8 weeks old.
Since leaving the nest, the young eagle — which is thought to be a male — has not ventured far from the security of its nest. It\’s been perching on the surrounding trees and its doting parents are keeping a watchful eye, while still providing food for their eaglet. In all likelihood, the parents will return to the same nest next year and may begin tending to it as early as December, bringing in fresh sticks and grass.
The second chick, in a separate nest on the south side of Santa Cruz Island, is expected to fledge within the next seven to 10 days. The aggressive youngster, known as A-60, is actively moving about its ground nest, traveling on a grassy terrace up to 30 meters from the nest site. It too is believed to be a male. The ground nest is the second known nest of its kind in the contiguous lower 48 states. There are now 43 bald eagles on the northern Channel Islands, with 18 of those believed to be frequenting Santa Cruz Island.
"It\’s not in a confined area," said Yvonne Menard, chief of interpretation for the Channel Islands National Park. "It\’s been seen bouncing and flopping around, and its parents are watching it closely."
Although the webcam is officially offline, the online discussion board will continue to post updates on A-49 and the effort to reestablish bald eagles on the chain. The discussion board can be accessed by visiting http://chil.vcoe.org/eagle_cam.html.