Bald Eagles

bald eagle in big bear you say?

We love our Bald Eagles in Big Bear Lake, CA!

When most people think of bald eagles they probably think of Donald Trump holding one of these majestic birds, his orange hair flying in the wind. The bald eagle may be holding a loaded shotgun in his beak or might have an American flag draped over his feathered wings, this big bird is the national symbol of the United States after all. Up until the 1960s or ’70s, these feathered patriotic creatures were abundant in the southern California skies. Now in the year 2020, it’s been rumored that maybe thirty pairs of nesting bald eagles soar the sunny skies of southern California. Eagles nest here in Big Bear, California each winter and call this mountain town their home. Bald eagles tend to mate for life and the females tend to be larger than the males. Female bald eagles can get to be up to fourteen pounds!

Bald Eagle on Tree
Is it just me or is this way more majestic than a turkey?

Obviously, we know who is in charge in this bird relationship. A great place to see the majestic bald eagles in action, Big Bear Lake, is just two hours outside the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. Big Bear Lake with its aqua blue waters, Jeffrey pine-studded shores and clear blue skies is a tranquil haven for these majestic raptors to call home.

Besides being one of the founding fathers of our country, Benjamin Franklin had some pretty rude things to say about this bird that is now a national symbol of freedom in our country. Benjamin Franklin thought that the bald eagle was a lazy, lazy bird and not a good example of what a patriotic bird should be. This spawned from the fact that eagles do tend to scavage for their food, dead salmon carcasses and the like. And they do tend to steal food from other creatures. Because of these reasons, our national bird was so almost the turkey, yes that delicious thanksgiving treat.

I holidayed in Alaska when I was in my twenties and I was shocked how many bald eagles were in the Talkeetna area. We went out with a nature guide and he was an expert on just how to spot this majestic bird. One thing I learned about the bald eagle on this vacation, that I will never forget, bald eagles are not killed mostly by poachers as I was taught in elementary school. When bald eagles in Alaska fish for their supper, they usually try to catch delicious wild red salmon. Some of these salmon can weigh upwards of twenty pounds and if an eagle gets their claws in a big one they can’t unlatch their claws and they often drown, if they can not float to nearby shore with the kill.

Close Up Photography of White Black Eagle during Daytime
“Trout? I prefer wild Alaskan Salmon! Someone drive to Whole Foods”

Bald eagles six to seven-foot wingspan actually allows them to use their wings as oars and attempt to float to shore with large fish.  That’s obviously not a problem for our bald eagles of Big Bear Lake as our bald eagles live on a steady diet of trout and they would be lucky to catch one over a few pounds. Besides drowning bald eagles are also killed by pesticide exposure and the decimation of their habitat. Big Bear Lake is a great place for eagles to nest as they don’t face these issues in our mountain town above six thousand feet.

Big Bear Lake, Where the eagle’s nest

If you are looking for family fun for free in Big Bear Lake, go to the lake shore and go site seeing for bald eagles. Even with the bald eagle being an endangered species since 1976, visitors are always surprised to learn that Big Bear has the highest wintering population of nesting bald eagles in southern California. Bundling up and going out to the lake shore to search the skies for bald eagles is a fun year-round morning activity in Big Bear Lake. Walk the pedal path alongside the lake and keep an eye to the sky about an hour after dawn. That is when you are most likely to see bald eagles fishing for breakfast. We normally have about twelve to fifteen bald eagles that nest in Big Bear year round and they love to fish just after dawn.

Photo of bald Eagles Perched on Tree Branches
Bald eagles don’t get the characteristic white face until 4-6 years old.

There are enough trout and bass in Big Bear Lake to keep shore fishermen happy, boaters out trolling our lake and even keep the bald eagle flock of Big Bear Lake very well fed. Big Bear is such a thrilling place to come out and vacation because it is so easy to spot our wild bald eagles. Another fun way to spot bald eagles is to go out kayaking on the lake early in the morning. Kayak rentals are very inexpensive. If you go out early to kayak or fish Big Bear’s shores, just keep your eyes to the sky and you have a good chance to also see bald eagles fishing.

If you are really into trying to sight the bald eagles of Big Bear Lake, you can actually volunteer most years to be a bald eagle counter from December through March. It’s basically like being a census worker but it’s not a paid position and you are counting big ass birds and not human population. Volunteers have been counting our biggest bird of Big Bear since 1978.

The bald eagles, the big news in a small town

The population of the bald eagles in Big Bear is such big news in this small town.

Bald Eagle Head
“I’ll lay an egg (or two) when I feel like it!” says Mama eagle.

It’s amazing how loved these majestic birds are in this community. The whole area of Big Bear near a popular hiking trail, Grey’s Peak is closed, basically all winter while the eagle’s nest while locals hope and pray there will be baby bald eagles by the springtime.  Mama eagle tends to lay the eggs in her nest, around the end of February or beginning of March. Big Bear even has an eagle cam so locals can watch the eagles nest and wait on pins and needles for the baby eaglet to hatch. Yes, we Big Bearian’s live in a town without a major sports stadium or shopping mall so yes, we consider watching the eagle cam on our smartphones a good time.

We feel fortunate that the eagles nest here in Big Bear Lake year-round. The bald eagles of Big Bear Lake are huge and majestic when you see them up close. Didn’t see any bald eagles lakeside on your holiday to Big Bear? Head on over to the Big Bear Zoo to see this beautiful feathered symbol of or country. At our rehabilitation zoo in Big Bear Lake, they have a few bald eagles in captivity and you can get up close to the eagles from a safe distance, or maybe even take a selfie.