Posts Categorized: nature + environment

The Bald Eagles are Back!

Today the LA Times and KPCC both reported that Bald Eagles are officially back in Southern California for the first time since the 1930s. What they mean is that there are two nine week old eaglets living in a nest near Lake Hemet.
The LA Times article states:

If the 9-week-old eaglets survive, federal and state wildlife officials say, they will have begun repopulating the southern end of their historical nesting range before bald eagles were all but wiped out in California by coastal development and the manufacture and use of the pesticide DDT.

The farthest south that successful nests have been found in California since recovery efforts began is in central Santa Barbara County, said Ron Jurek, who coordinates bald eagle recovery tracking statewide for the Department of Fish and Game.

The LA Times article was front page in the California section and had two large pictures. When I saw the first picture and the headline, my heart jumped. After reading the whole thing, my frist thought was “Thank God, we have finally done something right.”
This is the first nestlings that have made it past the egg stage in SoCal since the 1930s. DDT in the environment weakened eggs to the point of no live hatchings, and development encroached on the coastline and lakes of the area. Bald eagles have in the last few years returned to Big Bear Lake in the winter time, but go north to breed. Until now.
Many of you know that I am a big bird fan and feel very frustrated by the continual unstoppable development of SoCal. When nature and common sense prevails over rich developers making more money, I feel encouraged. The DDT that destroyed the eggs of eagles, pelicans, and many other birds certainly effected the whole of the ecosystem and not just the birds. There is still a huge plume of DDT off the coast of Palos Verdes and South Santa Monica Bay.
I have seen 2 bald eagles in the wild in my life. First one was in the summer of 1990, when my dad and I were putting around the shoreline of Catalina Island, near White’s Landing, and we had the pleasure of watching a bald eagle fish in a kelp bed no more than 50 feet from our little boat. The second time was last summer as my mom and I were driving around June Lake (in the Sierra Nevada mtns.) and a bald eagle was soaring above the lake and road. Truly amazing.

Surprise at the Birdfeeder!

The best view of the backyard birdfeeder is from the bathroom window, and the best way to watch without scaring the birds off. Imagine my surprise this morning to see a large black, orange, yellow and white bird at the feeder. I snuck out of the bathroom quietly to grab my digital camera, and came back stealthly. Here are the resulting photos:

May 15, 2003 Black Headed Grosbeak

The house finch of the left of both pictures is the average bird that comes to the feeder. Occasionally, a house sparrow will show up. And frequently, black phoebe or warbler will show up to watch the spectacle of infighting for perch space, but they will go about their insect eating ways.

May 15, 2003 Black Headed Grosbeak

My housemate Lauren told me that she recently saw a bright yellow bird at the feeder (goldfinch?), but today is my very first time of seeing a Grosbeak at the feeder. After consulting my bird guides, I determined that this fellow is a Black Headed Grosbeak.
Thank you, sir, for showing up and making my morning much brighter.