Bald eagles nest—a first—in Ramona Grasslands
For the first time, a pair of bald eagles are nesting in the Ramona Grasslands, reports Dave Bittner, executive director of the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona.
“We didn’t expect them to pop up, but we’re pleased that they’re here,” he said.
The pair has selected a big eucalyptus tree off Rangeland Road in a portion of the grasslands that is not open to the public, and has continued to build a nest, using sticks as large as 5 feet long, he said.
“They’re pretty much there every day, building the nest,” said Bittner.
The wing span of a male bald eagle is about 6 1/2 feet, while the female wing span is about 7 feet, he said.
Bittner said that during the past two or three years, bald eagles have migrated to the grasslands in the winter but were usually juveniles or not yet of mating age. These two bald eagles have been around the grasslands since mid-summer, he noted.
“It appears they’re doing all their foraging on the Ramona Grasslands,” he said.
The bald eagles forage mostly on ducks and geese now, but may also feed on rabbits and ground squirrels, he said. If a bald eagle sees a flock of Canada geese, he may look for an injured one and go after that goose, using his talons, Bittner explained.
“Around water they’re big on fish,” he said.
Noting that the foraging area is also one that is used by some golden eagles, Bittner said, “We may see some aerial combat.” The wildlife institute will continue to monitor the pair.
According to Bittner, the only other nesting bald eagles in the county are at Lake Henshaw. That pair has been around for about 10 years, producing a number of baby bald eagles, he said.
Wildlife Research Institute’s Hawk Watch 2013 will begin Jan. 5 and continue every Saturday in January and February, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the institute’s headquarters, 18030 Highland Valley Road. Visitors will be able to view the bald eagles’ nest through scopes, said Bittner.
For more information on Hawk Watch and up-close views of raptors, visit wildlife-research.org.
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