Humboldt Wildlife Care Center
From a population of over 100,000 individuals in the 1700’s, the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) declined to 417 nesting pairs in the 1960’s, with fewer than 30 nesting pairs in California. Major threats to the species were habitat loss, illegal shooting, and contamination of their food source. Residues from the pesticide DDT used for mosquito control entered the waterways, where they were taken up by fish and then consumed by eagles, resulting in failed nest attempts due to eggshell thinning. The bald eagle was listed as a federally endangered species in 1967 and a California state endangered species in 1971. Due to captive breeding efforts and legislation banning the use of DDT and prohibiting the harming of eagles, the bald eagle has made a remarkable comeback. It was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007 but remains endangered in California.
Through its conservation grant program, Sequoia Park Zoo has funded the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center to install a video webcam to document the nesting and parenting routine of a local pair of bald eagles. Bald eagles build their nests in large trees near rivers or coasts. A pair mates for life and often uses the same nest year after year. In California, the breeding season starts in January, and 1-3 eggs are laid in late March to early April. The eggs are incubated for 35 days by both the male and female, and the chicks fledge when they are 11-12 weeks old. The pair of eagles being observed has nested and successfully fledged chicks from this location for the past 4 years. Live video feed from the webcam is streamed to a website, offering the public an opportunity to witness the entire eagle nesting cycle, from nest building to the eventual flight of the juvenile eagles. This tool provides the community, especially school children and wildlife students, with an extraordinary viewing and learning experience that fosters a greater connection and understanding of wildlife.
The Humboldt Eagle Cam went live on February 5, 2013 with the first egg laid on March 16, 2013.