We conducted a hacking project in 1986–1994 to restore a population of breeding Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in central California, where the species had not nested in more than a half-century. We first documented breeding among release cohorts in 1993, and the population increased to 26 known occupied breeding territories by 2012, exceeding the recovery plan goal for central California. Not all Bald Eagle nesting in the region can be attributed to the hacking project, but because the first seven nesting pairs each included at least one released eagle, we believe that the project expedited the recovery of a Bald Eagle breeding population in central California. The proportion of Bald Eagles returning to breed increased for the final three cohorts in 1991–1994, when we released eaglets younger than the standard fledging age. Eaglets released at or beyond the standard fledging age dispersed relatively quickly, whereas eaglets released at a younger age established more regular feeding patterns at the hack tower, and were more often seen in future seasons. Reintroduction in central California was supported by previous protective measures for the recovery of the global population, particularly the ban on DDT.
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Vol. 51 • No. 2