America’s bird has expanded their range in the Channel Islands off the coast of California. According to officials, a nesting pair has been found on San Clemente island for the first time in more than 50 years.

What caused the bald eagles to disappear from the islands? Rampant use of the insecticide DDT in the 1960s caused thinning of eggshells which led them to easily break.

This recent discovery shows bald eagles have re-established territories on five of the eight Channel Islands.

“This news is very gratifying. I expect to see bald eagles return to all eight of the Channel Islands within a few years which will mark yet another milestone in their successful recovery,” said Dr. Peter Sharpe, who works along with the Institute of Wildlife on bald eagle recovery efforts.

A spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jane Hendron, said no chicks were observed at the San Clemente site. But, Hendron is encouraged that the eagles are settling on more islands.

The spread of bald eagles throughout the Channel Islands comes after officials released 61 chicks on the northern islands starting in 2002. Following four years of breeding the eagles in captivity, the first chick naturally hatched on Santa Cruz Island. It was the first natural hatch since the 1960s.

The eagles are no longer bred in captivity following the natural hatching according to Hendron.

The good news continues for the bald eagle. Over the past 20 years, the bald eagle has been removed from the endangered species list and the list of endangered and threatened wildlife in the continental U.S. Today, it’s classified as ‘least concern’ on the conservation status index.

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