Public invited to monthly winter count this Saturday
The live webcam placed on a bald eagle nest in the Big Bear Valley this morning showed one eagle jump onto the back of another for a few seconds. While it may have looked like rambunctious play, it was actually mating, or at least an attempt.
“When the underside of his tail went under her tail for a split second, that was the mating,” explained U.S. Forest Service Biologist Robin Eliason. “While this attempt may have not been successful, other mating attempts, including ones off-camera, may result in fertilization. This pair has been exhibiting mating and bonding behavior lately, which suggests egg laying may be in the very near future.”
Last year, two eggs were laid at the nest and both hatched live online. Later in the winter, however, one eaglet did not survive a winter storm.
The public has a chance to help conserve the local bald eagle population by participating at this month’s winter bald eagle count on Sat., Feb. 9, which takes place at five locations across the Inland Empire in collaboration with California State Parks. This year is the 40th anniversary of the winter count, which takes place once a month, Dec. through March.
No reservations are needed; just show up at a designated location at the start time with binoculars and a way to keep time. And don’t forget to dress for winter weather! Time and location details are below. (Important note: With the storm in the forecast and deep snow already present in Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, it is possible the count at these locations will be canceled. See the contact info below for how to check on those sites. A determination will be made on Friday afternoon.)
- Big Bear Lake area participants will meet at 8 a.m. at the Big Bear Discovery Center on North Shore Drive (Hwy 38) for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason (firstname.lastname@example.org or 909-382-2832) for more information. Please call 909-382-2832 for cancelation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:00 pm Friday, Feb. 8, on the evening before of the count, if it has to be canceled due to snow. There will also be a free slideshow presentation about bald eagles at 11 a.m. after each count.
- Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory area participants will meet at 8 a.m. at the Skyforest Work Center on Hwy 18 for orientation. Contact Robin Eliason (email@example.com or 909-382-2832) for more information. Please call 909-382-2832 for cancelation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:00 pm Friday, Feb. 8, on the evening before of the count, if it has to be canceled due to snow.
- Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area participants should plan to meet at the Silverwood Lake’s park office on Cleghorn Rd. (west of Highway 138) at 8 a.m. for orientation. Contact Mark Wright for more information about volunteering or taking an eagle tour (760-389-2303 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Lake Hemet participants should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for orientation.
- 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 951-940-5600 or the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum at 951-940-5657.
For eagle viewing any time of the day, check out the live feed of the Big Bear bald eagle nest. The webcam is provided by the Friends of the Big Bear Valley and can be viewed at the Institute for Wildlife Studies’ website or on YouTube.
The webcam monitors a nest on national forest lands near Big Bear Lake’s north shore. The area around the nest is closed to all public entry until June 22, 2019. The closure encompasses Grout Bay Picnic Area, Grays Peak Trail and surrounding National Forest areas. No entry, including snow play on the edges of the area, is allowed. Bald eagles during nesting season are sensitive to human interference and may abandon nesting activities if feeling threatened.
Those who can’t make the counts can still try to see bald eagles around our local lakes this winter. Contact the Big Bear Discovery Center (909-382-2790) or the San Jacinto Ranger Station in Idyllwild (909-382-2921) for eagle watching tips and etiquette on the San Bernardino National Forest.