Bald Eagle Spotted along the Rio Hondo Wash

My friend Jim Odling who is fighting the planned nature center at Whittier Narrows forwarded this:

Bald eagle wintering in Pico Rivera

Birding Web blogs have been abuzz recently with the finding of America's national symbol right in our own urban back yard. Pico Rivera is the location where an American bald eagle has been spotted wintering since mid January.

According to Wildlife Biologist/Restoration Ecologist Rob Bates of San Clemente, "The bald eagle has been in the area for almost three weeks now." He initially wrote in an e-mail to a Web birding group on Feb. 4 after Jon Fisher, of Glendale, reported the bird that can have an 80-inch wingspan.

Bates said, "It spends the majority of its time in Montebello, in the flood plain between San Gabriel/Lincoln/Rosemead (boulevards), normally perched in a snag close to the dam."

According to Mickey Long, Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation Natural Areas administrator, there have been very few reports of juvenile bald eagles around the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area or nearby.

Long, a 35-year birder, said "Yes, this looks like a juvenile bald eagle in first-year plumage (born last summer), since it is so dark overall. Bald eagles take over three years to reach adult plumage with the full white head and tail."

Long added, "They are a rare winter visitor to the San Gabriel Valley, probably pushed southward by cold northern and interior temperatures, they drop in at large open-space basins usually with lakes for fish and waterfowl. If it follows all previous patterns it will leave probably during March or sooner, heading north."

According to Long the juvenile bald eagle photographed Sunday at the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds in Pico Rivera is a "rare winter visitor with three records of immature birds seen in the Whittier Narrows area. One was over the Rio Hondo Dam basin on Nov. 20, 1985 (R. McKernan) and an immature bird, exhibiting plumage between first and second year, remained almost a month in the same area from Nov. 21 to Dec. 19, 1999 (S. Bernal, R. Jillson, et al.)

"One immature was reported over the Mitigation Lakes area and in the Rio Hondo Dam basin and using Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds, Pico Rivera, Jan. 13-Feb. 17, 2008 (E. Barajas, et al.) for the third record. A second-year bird (mottled plumage) was reported south of the basin over the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway near Beverly Boulevard on Jan. 13, 1990 (D. Cooper)."

He urged people to head over to the Rio Hondo Spreading Grounds on Paramount Boulevard and Mines Avenue to get a chance to see one of the most spectacular sights in America before it flies the coup.

-------Jim interjects------------

Comment to the Whittier Daily News article:

The Bald Eagle is one of 300 bird species identified at Whittier Narrows. Several of these 300 species are threatened. The area need protection from destruction by planned mega development.

The work of Friends of the Whittier Narrows Natural Area ( is to defend the natural area from the above mentioned planned destruction by the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority, The Authority's multi-phase building over ( a football field long building) and paving over (a 150 space parking lot) the Whittier Narrows Natural Area even includes plans to cut back on natural history education for young children.

The originating and continuing supporters of this Green-wash mega project are water agencies. What was wild, if not natural, may become a government conference center focusing on water agency interests. The money cost alone is almost $30 million and growing. And that is just for the first phase. You can help protect this remaining open space natural area in the San Gabriel Valley. Contact us, .

James Odling