The U.S. Forest Service needs help counting bald eagles in the San Bernardino National Forest. For the 36th season, the annual winter bald eagle counts in and near the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains will be on several Saturdays. This season the dates are Dec. 21, Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and March 8.

Migrating eagles typically begin arriving in the area in late November and leave in late March or early April. During the winter, Southern California bald eagles are typically found at many of the lakes, including Big Bear Lake, Baldwin Lake, Silverwood Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Green Valley Lake, Grass Valley Lake, Prado Dam, Lake Perris, Lake Hemet, Lake Skinner, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Matthews and the Salton Sea to the south.

Concurrent bald eagle counts are held at Lake Hemet, Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Silverwood and Lake Perris. Volunteers are stationed at vantage points around the lakes, where they watch for bald eagles during a one-hour period on the designated Saturday mornings. Volunteers record their observations on maps and data sheets.

Volunteers might catch a rare glimpse of our national symbol. Brief orientations are conducted prior to the count so volunteers know where to go and what to do.

“Through this method, the agencies and land managers have learned a lot about which areas are important to eagles and how the populations are doing,” said Forest Service Biologist Robin Eliason.
But we can’t do it without a lot of volunteers — we need their eyes to help us look.”

No experience is needed. Signing up ahead of time is unnecessary; just show up at the designated time and location, dress warmly, and bring binoculars and a watch.

Lake Hemet volunteers should plan meeting at the Lake Hemet Market at 8:30 a.m. for orientation. Contact Anne Poopatanapong ([email protected] or 909-382-2935) for more information.

Contact Drew Farr ([email protected] or 909-382-2816) for more information about the Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory.

Volunteers interested in Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area should contact Kathy Williams or Mark Wright at 760-389-2303 or email [email protected]

Lake Perris State Recreation Area volunteers should contact the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum office for more information at 951-940-5600.

Since 2003, several pairs of bald eagles have made the Southern California mountains permanent homes. They built nests and have successfully raised families. Nesting bald eagles may now be found at Lake Hemet, Lake Skinner, Lake Matthews and Big Bear Lake.