Eagle Has Landed
10-week-old bald eaglet, safely and comfortably resting at Bass
awaits its parents return. The Pines Resort canceled a fireworks
show at the end of May to prevent frightening or injuring
the baby, which could have prematurely jumped from the nest because
Friday fireworks cancelled
to protect a baby
LAKE — A scheduled fireworks show for Friday [May 28] has
been postponed to protect an eight-week-old bald eagle nestling. In
recent years, the fireworks have been presented by The Pines Resort
as a way to celebrate the official start of the summer season. The
plan was that this year's show would immediately follow the first
concert of the "Jazz on the Lake" series, held poolside
plans changed when Steve Welch, executive vice president of The
Pines Resort, heard of the possible danger to the baby eagle from
a Bass Lake resident. David Garcelon, president
of the non-profit Institute for Wildlife Studies (headquartered
in Arcata), made a special trip to the area after being told that
a marked eagle was nesting in the area.
Mr. Garcelon, a highly-respected authority on eagles, the trip
proved to be more exciting than he expected. Not
only did he discover the eagle chick, but he also realized the
mother of the nestling was a bird that he originally fostered
into a wild nest on Santa Catalina six years ago. The
fostering of this bird is part of a long-term reintroduction program
initiated by the Institute in 1980.
mother bird was collected from a nest in Northern California at
about 2 weeks of age and placed into the nest on Santa Catalina
Island. It fledged from the nest at about
12 weeks, staying in the company of its foster parents until leaving
the island later that year. Prior to leaving
the nest, Institute personnel placed orange wing-markers (No.
31) on the bird to allow for long-term identification from a distance. The
bird was also equipped with a colored leg band and a federal Fish
and Wildlife Service leg band.
1995, the eagle was observed in northern Washington, along the
Columbia River. Observers relayed the numbers seen on the wing-markers
that positively identified the eagle. It
was not seen again until the summer of 1998, when it was observed
in adult plumage with another adult adding sticks to an old osprey
nest at Bass Lake. Because it was late
in the breeding season, Mr. Garcelon did not think the birds would
year, the adult pair was back at the same nest, but this time
had started early, likely having eggs by early March. "
It is always a nervous waiting game to see if the eagles will
return to an area where they have not yet successfully nested,"
says Mr. Garcelon. "After waiting
all winter I was thrilled to hear the birds were back at the Bass
Lake nest, and even more excited to see that they had an eaglet." What
makes the sighting even more amazing is that in the 20 years Mr.
Garcelon has been involved in the eagle program, this is the first
eaglet ever successfully produced by an eagle released on Santa
the pair has one healthy-looking seven to-eight-week-old eaglet
in the nest. (Bald eagles normally have one or two chicks). It
is expected that the bird will take its first flight sometime
around the end of June, when it is approximately 12 weeks old.
Pines Resort has offered to provide lodging for Mr. Garcelon so
that he can be at Bass Lake as the nestling prepares to leave
the nest, an opportunity he is very excited about.
"Having the opportunity to see the eaglet fledge off the
nest is something I have been waiting for since I started the
Santa Catalina Island reintroduction program in 1980," says
a telescope, he spotted the eagle and its nest from the outside
patio of Ducey’s. While he was excited about this sighting,
Mr. Garcelon was concerned when he heard of Friday's fireworks
show. "As eagles nest fairly close to the
water's edge, they are susceptible to disturbance from water-related
activities that they have not had a chance to become accustomed
to,"explains Mr. Garcelon. "The loud
noise of a fireworks show could cause the young eagle to prematurely
jump from its nest, causing serious injury or death. The noise
could also keep the adult eagles away from their dependent eaglet."
he was made aware of the situation and the potential harm to the
bird, Mr. Welch did not hesitate to cancel the fireworks. "We
decided that saving the nestling was far more important than a
fireworks show,"he says. "We would not want to do anything
that would place this baby eagle in jeopardy."
Garcelon was elated with this decision. "[The Pines Resort]
were very sensitive to our concerns about the eaglet and realized
right off they would not want to take the risk of losing the first
eaglet ever produced at Bass Lake."
know some people will be disappointed not to have the fireworks
show," continued Mr. Welch, "but hopefully they will
understand why we made this decision." The
fireworks display will instead be held at the last "Jazz
on the Lake" concert on September 3. Mr.
Welch explained that they had a contract for the show, but that
Mark Silveria of Pyro Spectaculars was kind enough to revise the
contract for the Labor Day weekend.
it is expected that the fledgling will be out of the nest by Independence
Day, the traditional July 4 fireworks display, presented by the
Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce, will be held as planned.
the moment, fireworks does not appear to be what folks have on
their minds. As word has spread about the
nestling, many wildlife enthusiasts have arrived at Ducey’s
with binoculars, hoping to catch a glimpse of parents and baby. Although
Ducey’s opens at 11 a.m., personnel is allowing small school
groups to view the eagles between 8-10 a.m. Monday through Friday.
whole community is looking forward to seeing that bird flying
around Bass Lake soon," Mr. Welch adds. "We
are doing our best to accommodate people who want to see the eagles,"
he says. "We are providing binoculars, a fact sheet on the
eagles and information about the Institute for Wildlife Studies."
Institute was formed in 1979, with the goal to increase the understanding
of wild animals and the habitats upon which they depend, in order
to maintain viable wildlife populations. "The
need to understand the habits and habitat requirements of wildlife
species becomes increasingly important as humans throughout the
world encroach upon areas previously considered wilderness sanctuaries
for wildlife,"explains Mr. Garcelon. "Only
through an understanding of how animals relate to their environment,
will we be able to provide sufficient space and resources to allow
them to flourish."
to Mr. Garcelon, many wildlife species have complex relationships
with their environment. As with anything
complex, understanding does not come quickly and biologists must
examine a species over an extended period of time before they
can understand how an animal interacts with its environment.
funding for long-term studies is rare, few species have been investigated
in this manner. The endangered bald eagle is one such long-term
study. It has created considerable insight into the biology of
the eagle, and will contribute significantly to the successful
maintenance of their population.
Institute has conducted studies to determine the appropriateness
of bald eagle reintroductions for the Channel Islands, Point Reyes
National Seashore, and for the north and central California coasts. It
has also made recommendations for enhancing habitat features to
attract wintering and nesting bald eagles to the Lake Tahoe Basin,
and is currently working with two relatives of the bald eagle.
One is the Steller's sea eagle, which lives in Japan and Russia,
and the other is the Sanford's sea eagle that lives in the south
maintain the research and conservation programs, the Institute
requires continued support from both the public and private sectors.
Institute for Wildlife Studies, Post Office Box 1104, Arcata 95518.
phone number is (707) 822-4258.