Last Saturday, the U.S. Forest Service held the first bald eagle count of the winter and spotted bald eagles, but none at Lake Hemet. Local federal and state biologists, in partnership with many volunteers, numbered 38 observers who spotted seven eagles Saturday morning.
At both Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake, two adults and an immature bald eagle were counted. A seventh eagle was seen at Lake Perris.
“The eagle-eyed citizen scientists at Lake Perris were lucky to catch a sighting of an immature golden eagle as well,” wrote Robin Eliason, district wildlife biologist for the Forest Service’s Mountaintop Ranger District in the San Bernardino National Forest.
“With more winter storms in the forecast, we expect more migrant bald eagles to be moving into the area over the next few weeks,” she added. “Our highest numbers of bald eagles are usually in January and February.”
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.
The Forest Service emphasized that the success of the eagle counts is entirely dependent on the volunteers. The next count is Saturday, Jan. 9. If you are interested in participating, plan to meet at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for orientation or contact Ann Bowers at [email protected] or 909-382-2935 for more information.