For the first time in three decades, a pair of golden eagle chicks have been found in a nest in the Santa Monica Mountains, National Park Service officials said Wednesday.
The chicks were found in a remote area in the western Santa Monica Mountains, the first such discovery in the range since the late 1980s.
According to the NPS, the chicks — a male and a female — are 12 now weeks old and were spotted several weeks ago by a consultant conducting bird surveys. Biologists confirmed the nest location in early May and placed bands on the chicks to monitor their movements. Blood was also drawn for genetic testing.
The golden eagle is a cousin of the bald eagle. They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Park Service officials said sightings of the birds are rare, thanks to a continuing loss of habitat and hunting activity.
“Humans are the greatest threat to golden eagles,” ecologist Katy Delaney of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area said in a statement. “In the past, they were trapped and shot throughout their range and today, they are vulnerable to habitat loss.”
She said they are also vulnerable to eating smaller animals that have ingested rat poison — a threat that frequently fells mountain lions in the range.
The eagle chicks have left the nest. Park officials said young eagles generally travel between 20 and 1,200 miles away from their parents’ breeding territory, but they tend to return after about four or five years to create a nesting territory of their own.
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