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Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands

A Film by Kevin White

12 + 24 Minutes

Scene Selection • Closed Captioned

Grades 5 – Adult
Item #:RET-1030

Select DVD License (limited PPR included)

K-12 Schools, Public Libraries, Community Groups - $59
K-12 DVD + Digital File - $109
Colleges, Businesses, Other Institutions - $145
Colleges (DVD with Digital Site License) - $245

For millennia, the bald eagle was an important avian predator in the Channel Islands just off the coast of Southern California. Then in the early 1960’s the bald eagles disappeared entirely due to egg collecting, hunting, and extensive DDT contamination.

In 1980 a young graduate student, Dave Garcelon, decided to try and restore the bald eagle to the Channel Islands, often called North America’s Galapagos for their unique, diverse species.Return Flight chronicles how Dave and his dedicated team of biologists worked tirelessly for decades to bring the bald eagle back in the face of DDT contamination, leading to some amazing results.

The film also provides some history on DDT, a pesticide developed in WWII that was extensively used by consumers and agriculture – but not without serious consequences. Prior to the 1972 Congressional DDT ban, there were only 407 breeding pairs of bald eagles left in the continental U.S. – and none in Southern California.

The story is told through interviews with hard-working biologists, visionary resource managers, and thoughtful environmental historians - supported with beautiful visuals of a unique landscape and the bald eagles themselves. Ultimately, the recovery of the bald eagle on the Channel Islands mirrors its larger recovery in the continental United States. What emerges is a positive story of how innovation and dedication can triumph in the face of one of the most pervasive environmental challenges of our time.


  • Lesson Plan #1-Historical Impacts of DDT
  • Lesson Plan #2-Surviving on the Soup of the Sea: Food Webs and Bioaccumulation
  • Lesson Plan #3-Learning from Experts
  • Lesson Plan #4-Debating Values and Viewpoints
  • Lesson Plan #5-What is Ecological Restoration?
  • Lesson Plan #6-Public Interest in Environmental Conservation
  • Lesson Plan #7-Climate Change and Environmental Resilience
  • Resource Section-Additional Materials for Lesson #2

Preview link available upon request. Contact [email protected] for more information
Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands
Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands

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