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Bald Eagle Releases

Bald eagle perched inside a hack box.

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group worked cooperatively with Ventana Wilderness Society from 1984 to 1989 to initiate a successful bald eagle population recovery program for the Central Coast Region of California. SCPBRG supplied personnel and endangered species permits making it possible to launch and sustain this ambitious effort during its early years. 

At the time, no bald eagles were known to nest south of Shasta Lake in northern California. Historically, bald eagles nested along the west coast of North America from the Aleutians to Baja California. The primary cause of population decline was DDT contamination of the environment. Habitat changes and persecution probably contributed. 

A release site was established on Ventana Wilderness Society property in Anderson Canyon among the Big Sur country. Sixty-six, seven to eight week-old bald eagles were collected from nests in British Colombia and Alaska for release in Big Sur. They were held atop a release tower until flight feathers were fully grown and then given their freedom at fledging age. The bald eagles learned of the tower as a source of food and returned regularly for up to three months following release.  

Eagles that we released in the late 1980's began breeding in
1993. Releases continued through 1996. A total of 101 eaglets are known to have been produced since 1993 including known production of 19 eaglets in 2006. In most cases, VID leg bands identify the parent birds at nest territories as eagles released at the Ventana Big Sur release site. There are currently 15 known territories in the Central Coast region including sites in Alameda, Cotra Costa, San Benito, Monterey, Calaveras, and San Luis Obispo counties.

We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Ventana Wilderness Society on this successful project.