Eagle-eyed volunteers counted 11 bald eagles in the Inland Empire

Ann Bowers, with binoculars, leads volunteers to make the first of the winter Bald Eagle Count at Hemet Lake. The 15 volunteers attending reporting seeing an adult pair of eagles. One caught a fish out of the lake to the delight of the watchers Saturday, Dec. 10. Tony Ault photo
Ann Bowers, with binoculars, leads volunteers to make the first of the winter Bald Eagle Count at Hemet Lake. The 15 volunteers attending reporting seeing an adult pair of eagles. One caught a fish out of the lake to the delight of the watchers Saturday, Dec. 10. Tony Ault photo

SAN BERNARDINO – The first bald eagle count of the winter was conducted by local, federal and state biologists and citizen scientists around several lakes in southern California Saturday, Dec. 10. Several dozen bald eagles typically spend their winter vacations around southern California’s lakes, adding to a few resident nesting bald eagles that stay year-round.

A total of 11 bald eagles (seven adults and four subadults/juveniles) were observed by 101 eagle-eyed observers during the one-hour count period Saturday morning. Bald eagles acquire the full white head and tail in their fifth year. Until then, they have different plumages of brown and white.

Locally, 15 participants watched the pair of adult eagles at Lake Hemet. Ken Kietzer, a senior environmental scientist at Lake Perris State Recreation Area, reported two adult bald eagles observed by 28 people. Kathy Williams from Silverwood State Recreation Area reported that a beautiful outing was had by their 12 eagle counters but, unfortunately no eagles showed up.

Six participants scanned the skies at Lake Arrowhead, spotting two adult bald eagles. Forty participants helped with the census at Big Bear Lake where five eagles (one adult and four subadults) were counted.

LaReina Van Sant, Forest Service Biological Science technician, lines up her telescope on a bald eagle she spotted sitting in a pine tree across Lake Hemet during a bald eagle count in the San Bernardino National Forest Saturday, Dec. 10.  Tony Ault photo
LaReina Van Sant, Forest Service Biological Science technician, lines up her telescope on a bald eagle she spotted sitting in a pine tree across Lake Hemet during a bald eagle count in the San Bernardino National Forest Saturday, Dec. 10. Tony Ault photo

The count coordinators from the Forest Service and State Recreation Areas would like to thank those participants for their dedication in getting up early and participating in the eagle censuses this winter. The success of the eagle counts is entirely dependent on the citizen scientists.

The next bald eagle counts are scheduled for Jan. 14, Feb. 11 and March 11. All the counts are held on Saturday mornings and no experience is needed. There is no sign-up for those wishing to assist with the counts. Those interested should show up at the designated time and location, dress warmly, bring binoculars and a watch.

Counting eagles is fun, easy, and only takes a couple of hours. Participants meet at 8 a.m. (or 8:30 a.m. for Lake Hemet) for coordination and instructions. They are at their observation sites from 9-10 a.m. and then return to turn in the observation forms.

To participate in the count at Lake Hemet, participants should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for orientation. Contact Ann Bowers by email at annbowers@fs.fed.us or by calling (909) 382-2935 for more information.

Big Bear Lake area participants meet at 8 a.m. at the Forest Service’s Big Bear Discovery Center on North Shore Drive for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason by email at reliason@fs.fed.us or by calling (909) 382-2832 for more information. Please call (909) 382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions. If the count must be canceled due to mountain road/winter conditions, an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 a.m. the morning of the count. Contact the Discovery Center at (909) 382-2790 for information about Eagle Celebrations. There will also be a free slideshow about bald eagles at 11:00 after the counts.

Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory participants meet at 8 a.m. at the Skyforest Ranger Station for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason by email at reliason@fs.fed.us or by calling (909) 382-2832 for more information. Please call (909) 382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions. If the count must be canceled due to mountain road/winter conditions, an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 a.m. the morning of the count.

Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area participants should plan to meet at the Visitor Center at 8 a.m. for orientation. Contact Kathy Williams or Mark Wright for more information about volunteering or taking an eagle tour by calling (760) 389-2303 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or email at khwilliams@parks.ca.gov.

Lake Perris State Recreation Area participants should plan to meet at the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum at 8 a.m. for orientation. For more information call Lake Perris SRA at 9(51) 940-5600 or the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum at (951) 940-5657.

About the U.S. Forest Service: The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

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