CNN Environment News

Bald eagles wing their way to
northern California

Eagle

June 23, 1996
Web posted at: 12:50 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Susan Reed

LIVERMORE, California (CNN) -- In northern California, they're celebrating the birth of a baby, a very special baby.

For the first time on record, eagles have nested in the San Francisco bay area. (646K QuickTime movie)

"We could see the eaglet in the nest moving. This is the first time I've seen a bald eagle since I was probably ten years old," said birdwatcher Lois Lutz with a laugh.

Bald eagles disappeared from the San Francisco Bay area long ago.

"We started checking all the records and found out to our incredible excitement that there had been no bald eagles in the bay area for at least this century," said Joe DiDonato of East Bay Regional Parks.

Eaglets

It was the pesticide DDT that almost killed bald eagle eggs. Widely used in California's central valley -- the nation's premier vegetable growing region -- it was banned only some 25 years ago.

"Because of pesticides, poison , the loss of habitat they disappeared, except in the northern part of the state," said Dan Taylor of the National Audubon Society. "Now we're seeing birds come back into locations like this close to major cities ... That's an example of the triumph of the endangered species."

While bald eagles may no longer be endangered, they are still threatened. Birds are brought into California in order to build the population.

Feeding

One of the imported birds turned out to be the mother in the first Bay area nest. It's quite and serene around the area now, but after Memorial Day, 10,000 visitors will throng the lake every weekend.

At first, wildlife specialists worried that noise would drive the birds away, but the eagles have adapted.

"I've had people suggest, why can't we just hike up and look? Can't do that. Then they might leave," said Stephanie Gauthier, an eagle observer.

Her job is to keep the people in check so that the first-family of the park can live happily. Will it be forever after? Hard to say, but for now, central California is simply relishing the fact that the eagles have once again made it their home.

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