HEMET (CNS) - U.S. Forest Service rangers will convene their final eagle-spotting expedition for the 2018 winter season tomorrow, and volunteers are needed to help count the birds of prey in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains.
The Forest Service's 40th winter census began in early December. Since then, bald eagles have been spotted in traditional nesting areas around Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Gregory, Lake Hemet, Lake Perris and Silverwood Lake.
In February, two baby eagles hatched near Big Bear -- an event captured on a hidden USFS camera.
Volunteer watchers need no prior experience -- just warm clothes, a pair of binoculars and an hour to spare for the count Saturday, according to USFS spokesman Zach Behrens. Brief orientation meetings will be held at designated locations.
Eagles generally nest in lakeside areas from late November to early April. Radio tracking devices attached to some birds show that, in a given year, they can migrate to the Inland Empire 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 an estimated 10,000 breeding pairs identified across the continental United States, they were removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the eagle count at Lake Hemet should call (909) 382-2935; at Lake Perris, (951) 940-5600; Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead and Lake Gregory, (909) 382-2832; and Silverwood Lake, (760) 389- 2303.
Rangers noted that eagle counts could be canceled for inclement weather.
More information is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/sbnf .