Tourists have been flocking to Southern California for decades, in part because of its warm weather, its role as an entertainment mecca, and its expansive beaches. Now, people might be coming to the area for another reason – to see bald eagles.
Bald eagles were first named an endangered species way back in 1967. It’s thought that the use of DDT, a pesticide that was widely used after the second world war, contributed to the downfall of the species. Up until it was banned in 1972 in the US, it was dumped in the ocean, including in areas where the eagles lived. The DDT caused the birds to lay eggs with thin shells, which meant that the eggs broke before the babies could successfully emerge.
While eagles have been plentiful in Alaska, where the wildlife has remained fairly protected, the numbers in the lower 48 states dwindled to a dangerously low level in the 60s. At that time, there were less than 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the continental US. Now, there are over 11 thousand.
About 50 or 60 eagles make their temporary home on the Channel Islands and around the Orange County coast before flying elsewhere. Bald eagles have been sited in Newport Bay, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, Ventura County, and Santa Rosa Island. Now there’s yet another reason to visit the area, and both avid and casual birdwatchers can enjoy the show.