By Robin Eliason, U.S Forest Service District Wildlife Biologist
On Saturday January 9th, the second bald eagle count of the winter was conducted by local Federal and State biologists and volunteers around several lakes in the southern California. Several dozen bald eagles typically spend their winter vacations around southern California’s lakes. They migrate here because their prey animals (fish and ducks) are no longer available to them in the cold northern regions as ice covers the lakes and rivers.
A total of four bald eagles were observed by 64 observers during the 1-hour count period on Saturday morning: 1 adult and 2 immature bald eagles were seen at Lake Perris and 1 adult bald eagle was observed at Lake Hemet. Kathy Williams, park ranger at Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area, said “thirty-eight very eager participants were skunked during the count. But, we’ll try again next month”.
Eagle counts at Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead were canceled due to road conditions. Noted Robin Eliason, Forest Service Biologist, “the streets around Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead are plowed but they’re very narrow and lined with high snow banks. It makes it impossible to get vehicles parked off the roads, creating a safety issue for our eagle count volunteers. We’ve seen at least seven different bald eagles on Big Bear Lake in the days leading up to Saturday’s count and it’s likely that we would have seen most or all of those had we been able to get our volunteers out there.”
The count coordinators from the Forest Service and State Recreation Areas would like to thank those volunteers for their dedication in getting up early and participating in the eagle census. The success of the eagle counts is entirely dependent on the volunteers!
Please join us for one of the upcoming bald eagle counts for this winter! They are scheduled for the following Saturday mornings: February 13th and March 12th. No experience needed. Signing up ahead of time is unnecessary – just show up at the designated time and location, dress warmly, bring binoculars and a watch.
· Big Bear Lake area volunteers will meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Forest Service’s Big Bear Discovery Center on North Shore Drive for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason (email@example.com or 909-382-2832) for more information. Please call 909-382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 am on the morning of the count if it has to be cancelled. Contact the Discovery Center (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 volunteers will meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Skyforest Ranger Station for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason (firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-382-2832) for more information. Please call 909-382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 am on the morning of the count if it has to be cancelled.
· Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area volunteers should plan to meet at the Visitor Center at 8:00 a.m. for orientation. Contact Kathy Williams or Mark Wright for more information about volunteering or taking an eagle tour (760-389-2303 between 8:00 and 4:00; or email: email@example.com).
· Lake Hemet volunteers should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for orientation. Contact Ann Bowers (firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-382-2935) for more information.
· Lake Perris State Recreation Area volunteers should plan to meet at the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum at 8:00 for orientation. Contact the office for more information at 951-940-5600.
The bald eagle nest at Big Bear Lake now has a live-stream nest camera installed. The nesting pair, Lucy and Ricky, is expected to start working on the nest any day now. The winter storms and heavy snowfall may delay them a bit this year. Be sure to check it out: http://friendsofbigbearvalley.org/eagle-cam.html
See websites for additional information about the San Bernardino National Forest (http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/) and the California State Recreation Areas (www.parks.ca.gov).
About the U.S. Forest Service:
The mission of the Forest Service 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. Learn more at http://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf