During the third of four Saturday bald eagle counts this winter, two adult eagles were seen at Lake Hemet last weekend. A total of 17 bald eagles were seen in the San Bernardino National Forest on Feb. 14 during the count period, four more than the January count.
Public volunteers and U.S. Forest Service biologists again saw one adult eagle at Lake Gregory. Observers identified an adult and a young bald eagle at Lake Silverwood. This month counters saw two adult eagles and two juveniles at Lake Arrowhead. At Big Bear Lake, the observers again saw two adults but last Saturday they also counted six juvenile eagles.
Juvenile bald eagles are the same size as the adults but are more similar to golden eagles in their appearance. They do not acquire the white head and tail until about 4 to 5 years of age.
The remaining bald eagle count for this winter is scheduled for Saturday morning March 14. No experience is needed to participate in the counts.
Bald eagles are usually found close to water, such as Lake Hemet, because their diet is primarily made up of fish and ducks. As winter approaches in northern regions, lakes freeze over and waterfowl fly south. For bald eagles, that means the food they eat has become scarce. So, they head south looking for areas with abundant food supplies and end up wintering in Southern California, according to the Forest Service.
According to Robin Elliason, Mountaintop Ranger District wildlife biologist, “The turnout of volunteers on this Valentine’s Day was amazing. Approximately 275 volunteers and agency staff participated in the eagle search. The weather was perfect. Almost all of the participants were lucky enough to see at least one bald eagle today.”
For those interested in the March count, contact Heidi Hoggan of the San Jacinto Ranger District at [email protected] or 909-382-2945 for more information. Local volunteers should plan on orientation at the Lake Hemet Market at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 14.