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15 bald eagles spotted during final count of winter

15 bald eagles spotted during final count of winter
The second of two bald eagle eggs hatches in February, an event captured via live webcam. (Friends of Big Bear Valley)

Despite the rain, U.S. Forest Service rangers and volunteers completed their final eagle-spotting expedition for the 2018 winter season, counting a total of 15 bald eagles in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains, a spokesman for the Forest Service said Sunday.

The 158 participants on Saturday located 10 adult eagles, three juveniles and two chicks.

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The Forest Service's 40th winter census began in early December, and 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.

Eagles generally nest in the 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 last 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.

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