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Both bald eagle chicks on Santa Cruz Island die

April 24, 2009 |  2:04 pm

Bald eagle file photo.

The bald eagle nest on Santa Cruz Island sits empty -- quiet and devoid of the life and activity that was only recently present.

Both of the eaglets born in the sole nest on the island have died, and the parents have flown away.

Birding and nature enthusiasts who have been viewing the nest via Web camera are saddened by the loss.

"There has been an outpouring of emotion," said David Garcelon, president of the Institute for Wildlife Studies. "When people are so into watching birds and something like this happens, they take it pretty hard."

Available via the IWS website, the Santa Cruz Island site is one of four bald eagle nests with Web cams trained on them.

Though biologists do not have definitive answers as to why the chicks died, a high mortality rate is expected during the eaglet's first year.

"It's an unfortunate thing when you see chicks die in the nest, but it's something that is going to happen," said Garcelon. "Once they get past the first year they have a pretty good survival rate."

There is hope for the future though, as many of the bald eagles released in the Channel Islands National Park are now reaching breeding age.

"It's still a wait and see situation up there, but we have a lot of birds that are in breeding condition," added Garcelon.

On another positive note, two of the other Web cam nests -- Two Harbors and West End located on Santa Catalina Island -- have eaglets visible in them.

Here's hoping viewers get a happy ending on Santa Cruz Island next year.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Bald eagle file photo. Credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press