2 bald eagle chicks hatch on Catalina Island over weekend

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Posted by on April 02, 2007 at 21:08:51:

When two bald eagle chicks emerged from their shells over the weekend in their Catalina Island nest, they became the first of their kind to hatch on the Southern California island without human help in about 50 years, federal officials said.

The chicks are the products of two eagles that had been released in an effort to restart a population of eagles wiped out by the effects of DDT pesticide dumped off the coast from the 1940s to ’70s.

While bald eagles around the nation have rebounded vigorously to the banning of DDT, the Catalina population is still beset by that offshore dump, which works it way up the food chain to the fish and other food that the eagles eat.

The pesticide causes the female eagles to lay weak, thin-shelled eggs that typically could not withstand the incubation process.

In recent years, wildlife biologists have gone into the five nests on the island, removed freshly laid eggs, and replaced them with faux eggs until about the time that the chicks should be hatching. At that time the biologists replace the props with freshly hatched eagle chicks, and no one’s the wiser.

Prompted by evidence of declining levels of DDT in the eagles, the wildlife biologist this year left the real eggs in one nest, and found this past weekend that they had successfully hatched.

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