SAN BERNARDINO – The last bald eagle count of the winter was conducted by citizen scientists and local Federal and State biologists around several lakes in the southern California Saturday, March 11.
The clear skies and lack of wind made it a perfect day for counting eagles! Over 200 participants scanned the sky, tree tops and shorelines for bald eagles. Twelve bald eagles (seven adults and five sub-adults) were observed during the one-hour count period at five different lakes. Bald eagles acquire the full white head and tail in their fifth year. Until then, they have different plumages of brown and white. Two sub-adults were observed at Lake Silverwood; two adults and one sub-adult at Lake Arrowhead; two adults at Lake Hemet, and three adults and two sub-adults at Big Bear Lake.
The highest number of bald eagles in southern California occurs between December and March when eagles migrate here for the winter. By the end of March, most of the migrant bald eagles have headed back north to their nesting areas. After decades of no bald eagles nesting in southern California, there are now some nesting pairs that stay year-round.
A live stream camera installed by the Friends of Big Bear, provides a peek in the life of bald eagles. The pair of eagles has been active for the past month adding and fixing up the large the nest and hopefully will lay eggs soon. The nest is on the San Bernardino National Forest and the area around the nest is closed to the public in order to protect the eagles from disturbance but the video feed can be viewed online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHofqKTOcKw.
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.
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.