Bald and Beautiful

Counting Bald Eagles at Silverwood Lake

Who’s ready to go bald? Head to Silverwood Lake in the San Bernardinos, one of the best bald-eagle-spotting spots in SoCal, for this breathtaking experience. In the winter months, not only can you see them soar but you can also join in an important count of our once-endangered national symbol.

The bald-eagle count happens four times a year, in December, January, February, and March, and is open to anyone. After an orientation (including free coffee and pastries!) experienced birders split volunteers into teams, and everyone heads out into different areas of the park. That includes sections that are normally off-limits! Team leaders tell you what to watch for, and provide all sorts of interesting facts while you scan—for example, bald eagles only fly when there’s wind. They need it to get airborne, due to their size. Keep your eyes open for other birds as well, including hummingbirds, hawks, loons, and Canada geese. Bring your binoculars!

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The park also offers bald eagle barge tours during the winter months, but joining the bald eagle count is a more personalized experience, due to the small group size. You also get free park admission! When the count is over, head back into the park to explore the shores of Silverwood. For a quick and easy hike, try the Cleghorn Trail. The 1.6-mile round-trip trail meanders around the lake as it climbs 728 feet in elevation. Manzanita and live oak trees line the trail all the way up to the Garces Viewpoint, which offers stunning views of the lake below. Solitude, quiet, and the sight of soaring eagles—all experiences you definitely won’t get here in the summer!

From the I-15, exit onto CA-138 toward Silverwood Lake and drive for approximately 10 miles to Cleghorn Rd., following signs for Silverwood Lake and park headquarters. Call 760-389-2281 to make barge tour reservations (required) or to check on upcoming eagle count dates. Remaining eagle count dates for 2019: February 9 and March 9. Orientation is at 8 a.m. in the park headquarters. The count lasts approximately 2 hours, rain or shine. Barge tours are at 9 a.m. on Saturdays through March. Dogs are welcome in the park, but not on the barge tour or eagle count.

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