Lake Casitas site of nesting pair
By Logan Hall
The Ojai Valley is home to many wild animals. It’s not uncommon to see a deer in a back yard or a coyote running down the street. Lately, one thing seems to have the wildlife community buzzing. The American bald eagle has recently been sighted hunting fish and small birds out at Lake Casitas.
Known for its trademark white head and yellow beak, the bald eagle is found in most of North America, but mainly resides in Alaska and the west coast of Canada. The bald eagle was once abundant in Central California, having a large population on the northern Channel Islands. Due to hunting and pesticide chemicals such as DDT, breeding eagles had disappeared from the islands by the mid-1950s. In 2002 Channel Islands National Park began reintroducing tagged bald eagles back to Santa Cruz Island, which have been spotted at the lake several times. The particular eagles that have recently taken up roost at Casitas, are not tagged. “The fact that they have no tags is exciting,” said Kim Stroud, director of the Ojai Raptor Center. “These are wild birds.”
The birds have mostly been sighted by boat on the northern part of the lake, but a few people have been lucky enough to see them from shore. Raptor Center volunteer and avid bird watcher, Becky Donahue, was walking along the east shore when she spotted an incoming eagle. “This bird just came out of nowhere,” she said. “It was so beautiful.”
Aside from a few fishermen and bird watchers, most people are unaware that America’s national bird is right in their own town. “I’ve never seen them out here,” said Lake Casitas park officer James Martinez. “I’ll be looking for them now though.”
So far, it appears that there is one adult male (white head and tail) and possibly a female and two juveniles. With a large food source available and very few predators to threaten them, the local eagles may have found a seasonal, if not permanent, home at Lake Casitas.
The American bald eagle, although no longer on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s endangered species list, is still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Anyone encountering the birds is urged to observe them from a distance, being careful not to disturb them.
For more imformation on the Ojai Raptor Center. visit ojairaptorcenter.org.