Catching a glimpse of one of Lake County’s many bald eagles is a truly exhilarating experience. I’ve seen them in the Cache Creek Wilderness lands and pointed them out to my students when bald eagles put on a show over Coyote Valley Elementary School on a couple of occasions. Hidden Valley’s lake was a draw for the birds, no doubt. I have been lucky enough to witness them over and around beautiful, bountiful Clear Lake on numerous times- both the adult and juvenile of the species. Since our famous lake holds over 4,000 surface acres and is set like a gem upon the Pacific Flyway, the migratory passageway that travels north to Alaska and south to South America we are blessed with the good fortune for premier bird watching here in Lake County. Clear Lake, the oldest lake in North America and the largest lake wholly within California holds a combination of being both large and shallow, and creates the conditions for enriching plant life which is good for fish to feed on and spawn in. In fact, the algae and other plant life seen in abundance during the summer months is in actuality proof of the water’s cleanliness. The hot summer sun aids in the plant’s photosynthesis as it shines down through the waters to allow the vegetation to grow. The abundance of fish-attracting plant life attracts the bald eagles and other avian species. It can be argued that Clear Lake has more bird life than any other northern California lake, with thousands of cormorants, herons, pelicans, grebes a variety of ducks and more. Audubon California has named Lake County ‘An Important Bird Area’.
Our local branch of Audubon, called Redbud Audubon has a great website with tips for bird watching, links to our county’s parks and also bird lists. Audubon’s meetings and field trips are fascinating as well, with topics ranging from wonderful avian sightings at our local parks to ‘Hiking the Rim of an Erupting Volcano’ with Lisa Prather on Zoom.
Bald eagles, seen across much of North America, are expert at constructing huge nests around wetland habitats, that are five to nine feet in diameter and around three feet deep. The grand birds use the nests year after year Expert at fishing, bald eagles feed on various species of fish using their specialized hooked beak, along with their powerful orange talons.
Bald eagles hold an important place in America, as it is our national bird. Many Native cultures consider bald eagles culturally significant. Some tribes integrate eagle feathers into their tribal dances or other special observances. Be sure to watch the Lake County skies and wetlands as these powerful flying birds soar above us, using the thermal convection currents to reach speeds of 35-43 miles per hour. A winter wonderland of bird life awaits!
Redbud Audubon website: