Two golden eagle chicks have been found in a nest in a remote area of the Santa Monica Mountains, according to the National Park Service. This is the first sighting of the fully protected species in 30 years.
A golden eagle nest was last spotted near the Lobo Canyon in the late 1980s.
The chicks, a 12-week-old male and female, were spotted in a Western area of the mountains several weeks ago when a consultant conducting bird surveys on private property identified the pair and notified park biologists.
In early May, National Park Service biologists confirmed the nest and banded them. Each chick received a colored and a numbered band. The bands help scientists at the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory monitor the status, trends and ecology of resident and migratory bird populations.
“Humans are the greatest threat to golden eagles,” Katy Delaney, ecologist with Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, told the National Parks Service. “We haven’t seen them in so many years, though they could have been around and staying away from people.”
The chicks recently left the nest, but they will continue to rely on the more experienced birds until around late fall when they can successfully hunt on their own.
After gaining independence, young eagles generally scatter out of their parent’s breeding territory traveling between 20 to 1,200 miles away, but usually return when they are 4 to 5 years of age to establish their own nesting territory.
Typically, golden eagles feed on rabbits and squirrels, but these golden eagle chicks’ prey of choice were gulls. There were seven gull wings found in the nest at the time of branding.
The golden eagle is one of 11 raptors at Santa Monica Mountains. According to the National Park Service, golden eagles nested throughout the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu Creek State Park an Point Mugu State Park.