Big Bear Valley, CA — The fourth and final eagle count of the season took place on March 13, with an impressive 62 volunteers showing up at the Big Bear Discovery Center to assist biologists of the San Bernardino National Forest. Within the local forest’s American Bald Eagle census area, which includes Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear Lake, Baldwin Lake, Lake Gregory, Lake Hemet and Silverwood Lake, a total of eleven eagles (nine adults and two juveniles) were spotted on Saturday morning and, of those, five eagles (including the two juveniles) were counted within the Big Bear Valley. Counts have been conducted in our area since 1978, to contribute to the national Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Census to assess recovery of the federally-protected species. This winter’s counts resulted in four eagles wintering here in the Big Bear Valley in December, six in January, nine in February and five for this month, making for an average of six; heavy snows during last winter prompted cancellations of the December 2008 and February 2009 counts, though we still averaged six for the 2008/2009 season. American Bald Eagles wintering here tend to migrate out of the San Bernardino mountains in late March, heading back to their summer homes in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Alberta, Canada; in the meantime, eagle habitats along Big Bear Lake’s North Shore are closed to the public but these areas, including the Big Bear Municipal Water District’s boat launch ramps, will re-open April 1st.

Adult eagles have a white head and tail, while juveniles have a brown head and tail for the first 4-5 years of their life.