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Volunteers Needed to Count Bald Eagles

Adult bald eagle observed at Big Bear Lake during a count in January 2013. Photo by USFS Biologist Robin Eliason.
Adult bald eagle observed at Big Bear Lake during a count in January 2013. Photo by USFS Biologist Robin Eliason.
San Bernardino National Forest rangers are seeking volunteers to help count bald eagles at man-made reservoirs in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains on Dec. 21, Jan. 11, Feb. 8 and March 8.

The counts this winter are billed as the 35th season for annual bald eagle counts in the Transverse Ranges.

In February 2012, Forest Service wildlife biologist Marc Stamer spotted a bald eagle chick while on a field trip with third graders from Big Bear Elementary School.

The new chick was nicknamed "Jack" to honor one of the Forest's most dedicated eagle count volunteers, Jack Lubecki.

"We have hoped to see bald eagles nesting in the area for many years since we have great habitat for them," Forest Service district biologist Robin Eliason said in March 2012. "Eagles mate for life and will use the same nest tree for several years, so we can expect to see bald eagles here year-round for years to come."

Bald Eagle counts this winter are planned at Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Silverwood, Lake Perris, and Lake Hemet, John Miller of the Forest Service said in a statement Dec. 5.

Volunteers are stationed around the lakes, where they watch for bald eagles during a one-hour period on count mornings, Miller said. Volunteers record observations on maps and data sheets.

"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," Eliason said. "But we can't do it without a lot of volunteers - we need their eyes to help us look."

Here's more from the Forest Service:

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

Big Bear Lake
area volunteers will meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Forest Service’s Big Bear Discovery Center on North Shore Drive for orientation. Contact Drew Farr (dpfarr@fs.fed.us or 909-382-2816) for more information.  Please call 909-382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 am on the morning of the count if it has to be cancelled.  Contact the Discovery Center (909-382-2790) for information about Eagle Celebrations.  There will also be a free slideshow about bald eagles at 11:00.

Lake Arrowhead/Lake Gregory
volunteers will meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Skyforest Ranger Station for orientation. Contact Drew Farr (dpfarr or 909-382-2816) for more information.  Please call 909-382-2832 for cancellation due to winter weather conditions – an outgoing message will be left by 6:30 am on the morning of the count if it has to be cancelled.

Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
volunteers should plan to meet at the Visitor Center at 8:00 a.m. for orientation.  Contact Kathy Williams or Mark Wright for more information about volunteering or taking an eagle tour (760-389-2303 between 8:00 and 4:00; or email: khwilliams@parks.ca.gov).

Lake Hemet
volunteers should plan on meeting at the Lake Hemet Grocery Store at 8:30 a.m. for orientation.  Contact Anne Poopatanapong (apoopatanapong@fs.fed.us or 909-382-2935) for more information.

Lake Perris State Recreation Area
volunteers should plan to meet at the Lake Perris Regional Indian Museum at 8:00 for orientation.  Contact the office for more information at 951-940-5600.

The Big Bear Lake area has supported a wintering population of bald eagles for many years, according to the Forest Service.

Bald eagles migrate to Southern California's lakes and reservoirs for the abundant food supply, fish and waterfowl, and return in spring and summer to nest sites in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, and Canada.

In recent years, some bald eagles have taken up year-round residency in the Big Bear Lake area, according to the Forest Service.

The San Bernardino National Forest covers more than 1,000 square miles in mountain ranges of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

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