Eagle chicks on Santa Catalina are getting into shape for summer.
And, by "shape," we mean packing on the pounds. The three bald eagle chicks born in the West End nest are adding about one pound every four to five days, said Mary Osteen, of the Institute for Wildlife Studies.
They also sport a secondary "coat" of down. It's darker grey, so the chicks look much different than when they hatched in early April.
At about 13 weeks from hatch, the bald eagles are expected to take their first flights. Until then, webcam viewers can watch them walk around the nest on their oversized orange feet.
Since 2007, six pairs of bald eagles have produced an average of two hatchlings a year without outside help.
It was only until recently that eggs on the island had to be removed from the mother and artificially incubated. In some cases, foreign eggs from as far as British Columbia were brought to Catalina to help restore the population.
Pesticides, primarily DDT, dumped in the ocean nearby the Channel Islands from the late 1940s until the early 1960s are directly linked to the decline of animals inhabiting the region. DDT entered bald eagles’ bloodstream via the fish they consumed, rendering their eggshells too weak to support new life.