Valley News -

Second bald eagle count of winter season planned despite weather


Last updated 2/9/2019 at 10:18am

HEMET - Birdwatchers looking for bald eagles in the Inland Empire will have another opportunity to look for the predatory creatures winging over lakes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The U.S. Forest Service's annual winter bald eagle count got underway in December, but the bird-watching expedition normally scheduled in January was canceled because of the partial federal government shutdown, impacting the Department of Interior, under which the USFS operates.

Today's outing will be only the second of the winter season, with one more planned on March 9.

Because of wintry weather moving through the region, the count will only be held this morning at Lake Hemet, Lake Perris and Silverwood Lake, with no outings scheduled at Big Bear Lake or Lakes Arrowhead and Gregory.

According to San Bernardino National Forest spokesman Zach Behrens, a pair of bald eagles were recently observed mating at Big Bear. However, no eaglets have appeared in any of the nesting locations.

The Forest Service conducts the annual winter census to gauge the bald eagle population in and around the San Bernardino National Forest, where the birds wait out the cold months. The counts have been going since 1978.

Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers who want to help out need no prior experience -- just warm clothes, a pair of binoculars and an hour to spare for each count, according to rangers. Each excursion requires a brief orientation at a designated location.

Eagles generally nest in the lakeside areas from late November to early April. Radio tracking devices attached to some birds show that, in a given year, they can migrate to the region from as far north as Alberta, Canada.

Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the American bald eagle was nearly driven to extinction in the past century. The birds were declared endangered in the 1970s. However, with more than 10,000 breeding pairs identified across the continental United States, they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the eagle count at Lake Hemet was asked to call (909) 382-2935; at Lake Perris, (951) 940-5600; Big Bear Lake, or Lakes Arrowhead and Gregory, (909) 382-2832; and Silverwood Lake, (760) 389- 2303.

More information is available at .


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