The West End Bald Eagle Cam is made possible through an educational partnership between the Institute for Wildlife Studies, Montrose Settlements Program, the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy and Explore.org.
Bald eagles were living and breeding on the California Channel Islands until the 1960s, when the chemical pesticide DDT caused them and numerous other species of seabirds in the area, to be extinct. In 1980, the Institute for Wildlife Studies (IWS) began restoration efforts on the Channel Islands. Between 1980 and 1986, 33 bald eagles were released on man-made hacking platforms. Some of these adults formed breeding pairs but the eggs laid were affected by persistent high concentrations of DDT and broke during incubation due to thin shells.
In 1989, IWS began removing eggs from nests to be artificially incubated at the San Francisco Zoo. They were replaced with artificial eggs that were then incubated by the unaware adults. Once hatched, the bald eagle chicks were surreptitiously placed back into the nests and raised by the adults. Since 2008, all of the breeding pairs of bald eagles on the Channel Islands have successfully hatched chicks naturally.