RIVCO: 38th annual bald eagle counts are in, with bird spotting report

The U.S. Forest Service’s final eagle count this winter in the Inland Empire ended with four birds of prey spotted near Riverside County lakes, according to rangers.

Volunteers who were eagle-watching around Lake Hemet over the weekend confirmed a pair of adults tending a nest, while volunteers stationed for an hour at Lake Perris saw two adolescent bald eagles soaring at tree-top level, said USFS spokeswoman Gerrelaine Alcordo.

She said a total of 42 volunteers participated in the Riverside County outings.

The Forest Service’s 38th annual bald eagle count got underway on Dec. 12 in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains. Between then and Saturday, volunteers convened four times to conduct the winter census, which included observing nesting areas around Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Gregory and Silverwood Lake.

Eagles generally nest in the areas from late November to early April, according to the USFS. Radio tracking devices attached to some birds show that, in a given year, they can migrate to the inland region from as far north as Alberta, Canada.

Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the American bald eagle was nearly driven to extinction in the past century. The birds were declared endangered in the 1970s. However, with some 10,000 breeding pairs identified across the continental United States, they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.

The 39th bald eagle count is slated to begin in early December.

More information is available here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf

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