Santa Cruz Island Bald Eagles: The Sequel

Fans are flocking to the eagle cam to tune in to this season’s hottest reality show.

Watch the Eagle Cam  

Independence Day

July 3 — In the spirit of the national holiday, the eaglets are spreading their wings and leaving the nest behind more and more.

Blood results have confirmed the genders of our now nearly autonomous young raptors: in the Sauces Canyon nest, A-81 is a male, while A-82 is a female; A-84 of Pelican Harbor fame is also a male.

Freebirds both, A-81 and A-84 are seriously taking the show on the road. A-81 flies in and out of the nest frequently, sometimes even bullying his parents off their perches.

Meanwhile, A-84 appears to A-WOL from his nest. Recent sightings, however, confirm that the strapping young eagle is nearby in Chinese Harbor and still under the supervision of his parents, K-10 and K-26.

Believing that home is where the carrion is, A-82 has been sticking a little closer to the Sauces Canyon nest. As this charming video shows, the sensible A-82 has more important things to do than fly off all the time, such as prepare for her upcoming screen test.

So act now—there’s still time to catch the “tail end” of eaglerama and to share in all the excitement of the discussion board.

Band of Brothers—and/or Sisters

June 27 — That’s right, our favorite eaglets have been banded. Peter Sharpe and his intrepid crew from IWS fitted our eaglets with federal bracelets on June 8 and 10. These permanent metal bands—attached by pop rivets to protect them from strong beaks and talons—each contain a unique number so that these eagles can be tracked wherever they may roam.

The team also fitted the birds with semi-permanent wing tags so that scientists—as well as members of their fan base (and celebrity media)—can readily identify them as stars of the Channel Islands Bald Eagle Restoration Program family. The latest in island wear, the tags happen to come in two of this season’s hottest colors: orange (for Catalina Island) and blue (for the northern Channel Islands).

Thanks to this very successful program, the Channel Island eagles make up a rather large family, with our favorite on-camera offspring pushing the number into the 80s. That’s A-81, A-82 (Sauces Canyon) and A-84 (Pelican Harbor) to you!

Not to disappoint their audience, the eaglets inserted some drama into the banding episode. This precocious trio has already started to fledge, and they decided to show off their lofty talents to the scientist—and not his stunt double—who made the perilous climb into the nests. Let us not omit that the eaglets now weigh approximately 10 pounds and sport nearly adult-size razor-sharp talons.

We should know, because the IWS scientists took measurements of the eaglet’s talons and beaks. From these, they can extrapolate gender—if the beak is more than 30 millimeters, the birds are tagged as females, which are always larger than their male counterparts—and, of course, seemingly larger than life!

The team also drew blood to check the eaglets’ exposure to pesticides. Even several decades later, the DDT that wiped out the original Channel Islands bald eagle population still lingers in the ecosystem—a powerful reminder of how important these conservation efforts are.

So stay with us in the final days before the eaglets fly off to their next big projects. And remember to check the discussion board for great video clips and commentary.

Honey I Blew Up the Kids!

June 11 — And how quickly they’ve grown. From wobbly balls of gray fluff, our stars of the small screen have morphed into much sturdier birds of a darker feather. Eagle-cam footage records the offspring of eagle pairs A-27 and A-40 and K-10 and K-26 now standing firmly on their own two feet.

Getting around the nest means that the three eaglets (two at Sauces Canyon with the As, one at Pelican Harbor with the Ks) can also help themselves—without assistance—to the healthy menu of fresh fish and carrion delivered daily. Only about six weeks old, the eaglets are still mooching off the ’rents, of course, who dutifully bring home the “bacon” and continue to provide them with free room and board.

Meanwhile, in keeping with high raptor fashion, these handsome lads and/or lasses are sporting the dark brown feathers of their adult counterparts and beginning to look like, well, eagles. It’ll be quite some time—approximately four to five years—before they get their white head and tail feathers. Still, with their dark plumage, they are beginning to cut imposing figures in the Santa Cruz Island landscape.

Stay tuned for our next episode in which the eagles join a band (that is, get banded), and in the meantime, don’t miss a minute of the action.

Bringing up Baby

May 11 — The Ks and As both have their talons full (of fish, primarily) keeping their chicks fed, as the eaglets pack on a pound every four or five days. Meanwhile diehard fans of the Santa Cruz Island eagle cams are marveling over how quickly our little “K-let” and “A-lets” are growing up.

Now toddlers, Baby K and double-the-trouble Babies A are giving us a thrill a minute as they waddle around their respective nests—sometimes, it seems, a little too close to the edge.

Thankfully, their parents child-proof the nests regularly. Both Ks and As are excellent housekeepers, always tidying up after meals and fortifying the edges of the nest with larger branches to keep their little adventurers safe.

Brave K junior, at three weeks, is probably about four pounds, and is still sporting a lovely gray down coat. The intrepid A siblings, at four and four-and-a-half weeks are more like 4.5-5 pounds and already shifting to a more mature, darker wardrobe. All the chicks are testing out their accessories—wondering, perhaps, what those still small things attached to their backs are supposed to do!

While only-child K gets the full attention of parents K-10 and K-26, big sister or big brother A is living up to his/her traditional sibling responsibilities by vying obnoxiously for parents A-27 and A-40’s attention, especially during meal times.

Happily, at the end of this episode, all is well with the Ks and As at home.

Off-camera, however, a little tragedy struck when A-49 lost her first chick. A-49 was born to the Ks in 2006; she is the first wild-born chick of the Santa Cruz Island Bald Eagle Restoration Program. First-nest failure, however, is common among bald eagles, and we wish her luck next year, when she is likely to try again.

So stay with us for all the excitement—the agony and the ecstasy of bald eagles nesting, brought to you by this wondrous theater in the wild. You won’t want to miss a single eagle-cam minute!

Friday the Thirteenth

April 13 — . . . was one lucky day for K-10 and K-26! At the end of an eight-hour, talon-biting, shell-poking cliffhanger, the pair welcomed their newest youngster to Pelican Harbor. Based on this heroic entrance, nothing will scare this little camper away from the water—that is, when he/she gets a little bit older.

Right now, though, our special K needs the protection of its watchful parents. The newly hatched chick—like all eaglets—is a soft, grayish white ball of down, half blind and wobbly-legged. All the same, K Downy Junior is turning heads in the eaglet’s native California and far, far beyond.

No American bird develops faster than a bald eagle chick, so don’t miss a minute of the electrifying footage available to you here on your own all-chick network!

Starsky and Hatch

April 12 — And the birth announcements are flying, so to speak! A-27 and A-40 have now confirmed a second adorable offspring in their Sauces Canyon nest. So welcome Baby A2, April 11, maybe 8 ounces and 7 inches long (at least those are the measurements of a typical newborn eaglet).

This momentous occasion marks the first time the A’s have premiered not one but two chicks. It’s turned out to be a blockbuster season for the A Team.

We’ll keep a spotlight on our two newest little stars for you, so look for more updates on this channel and keep watching the webcam for unforgettable eagle family drama.

A Star Is Born

April 11 — We have it straight from the Sauces (Canyon) beak—A-27 and A-40 are beaming over their fluffy new ball of eaglet joy. With no storks required, the A’s first hatchling brought itself into the world on April 8, much to the delight of watchful fans around the globe.

The chick is now sitting pretty in the nest, capturing the hearts of ardent eagle-cam viewers, while feasting on the catch of the day, served up by its devoted parents.

Meanwhile, K-10 and K-26 are expecting their own breakthrough any day, which will add another bright light to our radiant raptor constellation.

But wait, there’s more . . . the A’s may be hatching up another fine-feathered scheme in the very near future. So keep your eagle eyes trained on this station, where we promise to always keep you up in the aerie.

Born to Be Wild

March 30 — Historic news: K-10 and K-26’s first-born chick is all grown up and having babies of her own. A-49 also has the special honor of being the first wild-born eagle on Santa Cruz Island since the reintroduction program began in 2002.

A-49 and hubby A-64 are currently tending the first egg in their nest, located at Profile Point on Santa Cruz Island. Although A-49 does not appear on the webcams, we will bring you updates on her maternal progress as the eagle season continues.

On a sad note, we recently learned that one of K-10 and K-26’s eggs was not viable—a not entirely uncommon occurrence during bird gestation. The couple is taking excellent care of their remaining egg, while in the Sauces Canyon nest, A-27 and A-40 continue vigilant incubation of their two eggs.

We’ll continue to keep watch on the eagle cams and get daily updates on the eagles discussion board, and we look forward to the arrival of our next generation of bald eagles.

The Parent Trap

March 22 — Finding a sitter can often be a tricky problem—especially when the kids require attention 24/7. Parents often have to negotiate just who is going to get out of the house for a little “me time” and who is stuck in the nest, as it were.

In recent video footage, we find the Ks negotiating just this problem in their own eagle-tarian way.

Here, father K-10 has been keeping the home (or brood) fires warm. Mother K-26 swoops in from her day at the beach (hunting fish). But wait, she’s out on a limb, not quite ready to resume her parental duties. K-10, however, has some choice words for her. After a classic switcheroo, she finally settles back into mom duty. And off he goes . . .

Be sure to stay tuned for more inside-the-nest-action as our eagle parents prepare for their chicks' break-out roles! 

The Fantastic Four

March 12 — That's right, power couple K-26 and K-10 have recently revealed their plans to double our pleasure with yet another addition to the nest. Check out the behind-the-scenes video here.

Now avid eagle-cam watchers can track the progress of four—count ’em, four—eggs!

With twice the action and twice the suspense, watching our proud parents bringing up baby(s) is certain to be a super experience.

With Six You Get Egg-roll

March 9 — We are pleased to announce a special delivery to the branch office (and no, it's not a Doris Day movie). K-10 and K-26 have produced their first “air” apparent. Eagle-eye webcam watchers have already spotted an egg up in the aerie at Pelican Harbor.
Meanwhile, let’s give a rousing ovation to love birds A-27 and A-40 who, in an encore performance, have produced yet another egg. 

In this fast-growing franchise, our onscreen ensemble has now expanded to seven lofty cast members.

The scenes are literally heart-warming, as both male and female eagles use the brood patches on their chests to cultivate their protégés. Viewers can watch the exciting action as parents roll their eggs over easy, to keep the embryos from getting stuck in one position.

So join us for the best chick flick of the spring—including egg-citing bonus footage! And don't forget to check out the eagles discussion board for the inside scoop on our favorite feathered families.

The A-Team Strikes Again

March 6 — Has A-27 been covering a baby bump? Will A-40 be a proud papa? The rumors are true. Eagle-cam “Papa”-razzi have already caught glimpses of A-40 and A-27 guarding a newly laid egg in the Sauces Canyon nest.

If all goes well, the A-Team, who successfully hatched A-73 last year, will welcome a new little bundle of joy into the Santa Cruz Island eagle family in early-to-mid-April.

Fortunately for A-27, the enlightened bald eagles opt for “egg-quality” of the sexes; A-40 will share the burden of caring for the embryo for the 35-day incubation period until it hatches. Both male and female eagles have special areas on their chests with high concentrations of blood vessels. These “brood patches” will keep baby warm until he or she is ready to emerge.

So don’t touch that dial! You won’t want to miss a minute of the latest episode of the eagle cam diaries.

Hot Shots—Part Deux!

March 5 — This just in—veteran stars K-10 and K-26 have reprised their roles as nesting parents on Santa Cruz Island. Now, not only can you experience great shots of one eagle pair—A-27 and A-40—via webcam, you can also tune into the “K”s in their home at Pelican Harbor.

We missed being able to watch K-10 and K-26 by webcam last year and are thrilled to see them again. In their last on-camera appearance in spring 2010, the couple successfully hatched two chicks, A-68 and A-69. That year, A-68 (the smaller and younger of the two eaglets) bravely warned off an errant fox that had decided to make a cameo appearance in their nest. This unexpected adventure was one of many witnessed by audiences worldwide.

We wish a warm welcome to our old friends. Stay tuned to see what’s in store for the eagles this season!

Celebrity couple A-27 and A-40 have reappeared on Santa Cruz Island amidst the accolades of adoring fans—that’s right, roll out the red carpet: the eagles have landed!

A-27 and A-40 are busily tidying their nest in preparation for their leading roles as parents of the next generation of bald eagles—who will star in their own exciting story of the comeback of these magnificent birds on the Channel Islands.

The eagles’ return has been made possible by a partnership between the National Park Service, the Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS), the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program and The Nature Conservancy. Together these organizations began the restoration of bald eagles to the Channel Islands in 2002.

With webcam in place, A-27 and A-40 are ready for the new season of their gripping reality show. Last year, in dramatic footage, they hatched A-73, the eaglet known as Dreamer, who fledged on June 28, 2011. Dreamer was one of 14 chicks hatched to 13 pairs of eagles that nested on the Channel Islands in 2011.

The 2012 sequel promises to be even more thrilling, as the eagle population continues to soar. Peter Sharpe of the IWS anticipates 16 pairs will nest on the Channel Islands, topping last year’s record breeding season.

On a Wing and a Prayer

Bald eagles did not always take center stage on Santa Cruz Island. In 1978, when The Nature Conservancy purchased most of Santa Cruz Island, the situation was dire—the use of DDT in the 1950s and 1960s took its toll on the bald eagle population, wiping out many and destroying their ability to reproduce. Indeed, the island—the largest of an archipelago that rims the southern coast of California—was an ecological disaster about to happen.

The task of removing non-native species, restoring habitat and rehabilitating native plants and animals was monumental, but thanks to the concerted efforts and unwavering faith of the Conservancy and its partners, Santa Cruz Island is once again hospitable to its rightful heirs—including the majestic bald eagle.

Talon Scouts

What’s heartening is that fans all over the world have joined together in support of this recovery process. Since 2006, thousands of enthusiasts have followed the story of the eagles’ annual homecoming through live, streaming video and on the eagles online discussion board.

This year, the solar-powered eagle cams —broadcasting viewers into the nests at Sauces Canyon and Pelican Harbor—will once again bring the rarely seen world of wild eagles to worldwide audiences.

Our supporters have made the recoveries of Santa Cruz Island and the Channel Islands eagles possible. And you can help, too.

Eagles Rewind

In our previous eagle-cam episodes…

So don’t miss a minute of the 2012 Santa Cruz Island eagle-cam season—premiering on a (computer) screen near you!