UPDATE: Around the time this post went live, A-73 took flight for the first time. Watch the video below to see him fly away from the nest (it happens around the 3:15 mark) and wait till the end to see a surprise.
Time flies when you’re waiting for — well, flight.
Let’s back up a little. It’s been a rapid-fire breeding season for the Channel Islands’ bald eagle population, which has been growing thanks to a restoration program that’s involved efforts from the National Parks Service, the Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, the San Francisco Zoo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the IWS.
Over the past few months, we’ve watched as a total of 14 chicks have hatched on the Channel Islands. That number includes the first eaglet born on Anacapa since 1949, and eagle followers have assiduously tracked news of its birth on the Channel Islands Live! discussion forum.
Also among those 14 chicks were three born on Santa Cruz Island. One was born to the Pelican Harbor mating pair of K-10 and K-26, who were watched by thousands of fans on last year’s eagle cam. And another eaglet was born to A-27 and A-40, the Sauces Canyon pair who have emerged as stars on this year’s iteration of the cam.
Their eaglet, A-73, hatched on April 9th, and the visibility afforded by the eagle cam helped him to fully cement his celebrity. He’s already given us memorable moments like his first wing exercises and his banding, and his recent flirtation with flight leads us to believe he’s almost ready to fledge.
K-18, an eaglet hatched on Catalina Island in late March, recently fledged to join the dozens of other eagles circling the Channel Islands. The bald eagle population is slowly recovering to the levels attained prior to the 1940s, when DDT was introduced to local waters and triggered nearly complete nesting failure and the disappearance of bald eagles from the Channel Islands.
As this new video attests, it’s taken decades of hard work for the restoration program to build up that population, and time hasn’t always flown during those arduous years. But the excitement we get from events like A-73’s upcoming fledging have more than made up for the wait.
(Image: The bald eagle chick known as A-73 that hatched on Santa Cruz Island on April 9, 2011. Image credit: ©Jim C. Spickler.)