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First eagle hatching in 50 years on island

4/14/2006

LOS ANGELES — For the first time in more than 50 years, a pair of bald eagles hatched a chick on Santa Cruz Island, wildlife biologists said Thursday.

Scientists say the successful breeding marked a significant milestone in their four-year effort to reintroduce the eagles to the island off Southern California.

"It's a new age for the islands," said David Garcelon, president of the Institute for Wildlife Studies.

There was more reason to celebrate — another nest was found on the island, and a female eagle has been observed sitting on it since March 28, possibly guarding an egg.

Bald eagles once flourished on the islands off the California coast but they disappeared in the 1960s as DDT polluted their food chain. The now-banned pesticide made the birds' eggshells brittle.