Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands
Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands
Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands
Item#: RET-1030
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Running Time: 12 minutes
and 24 Minutes
Scene Selection • Closed Captioned
Grades 5 – Adult
A Film by Kevin White



"Editor's Choice. Highly Recommended. This is a wonderful story of the very best in wildlife biology technique with an excellent script and exquisite video footage. A most interesting success story about how to rebalance an environment that was the victim of a severe environmental insult."
–Science Books and Films (AAAS)

"Highly Recommended. An inspiring documentary film about the heroic efforts of wildlife biologists to reintroduce America’s national symbol of the wilderness to its historic nesting grounds. Return Flight is a welcome, instructive, and genuinely positive contribution to the often discouraging news about the America’s wilderness and wildlife."
–Educational Media Reviews Online

"Recommended. Garcelon and other biologists describe the painstaking process and celebrate the success of their venture in this inspiring, beautifully shot program. Teens will get an insight into the work of these dedicated scientists and their battle to save the bald eagle from extinction."
- Booklist (ALA)

“Director White is able to take a story 20 years in the making and turn it into a narrative sure to inspire the next generation of biologists to take on epic projects of their own... And above all, he shows eagles in flight, making for a film that soars.”
– Malibu Times

“One of the more popular films on our 2012 tour. Audiences really respond to the compelling positive story.”
– Wild & Scenic Film Festival

"A testament to the very real possibilities of righting past human errors. Kevin White's film chronicles how years of determination and passion by a small group of dedicated individuals have created positive environmental change."
- Valerie Landes, Executive Producer, Natural Heroes/PBS

"The story of the efforts and ultimate success of the eagle reproduction project is quite informative and heart-warming."
- Brent Plater, Lecturer, San Francisco State University Environmental Studies Program



National PBS broadcast on Natural Heroes


Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Waimea Film Festival
Malibu Conservation Film Festival
Pacific Seabird Film Festival
Special Screening - National Conference of Ecosystem Restoration
All prices include DVD and PPR

• K-12 Schools, Public Libraries & Community Groups: $59
• Colleges, Government, Businesses: $145
• Colleges, Government, Businesses (with DSL): $445

Narrated by Peter Coyote

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