The male bald eagle that hatched in Big Bear this spring has finally fledged, or grown big enough feathers to fly, and is ready to soar.
Viewers who were watching the nest livestream heard the young eagle cry and saw it fly out of view early Tuesday morning. Most bald eagles fledge between 10 and 12 weeks old, but at 14 weeks, this eagle took his time leaving the nest, the National Park Service said.
"Over the next few months, he will stay close to his parents," said Robin Eliason, a wildlife biologist for the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. "They will help feed him while he learns hunting skills. Eventually, he will disperse and likely leave the Big Bear area."
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The nest, located in the Fawnskin area, will be closed to the public through July 31 to allow the young eagle to mature and practice its flights without disturbance, according to the National Park Service. Oftentimes, eagles stick around their nest as they continue learning to fly and fend for themselves. During the summer, he might be found practicing his hunting skills around the lake.
A bald eagle typically reaches maturity in five years. By then, it will acquire the characteristic white head and tail, find a mate and establish a breeding territory, the National Park Service said.
The proud parents laid two eggs in early March, and welcomed two eaglets in mid-April. The survival rate of eagles in their first year of life is less than 50%. One of the young eagles did not survive a late winter storm that occurred during Memorial Day Weekend.
Biologists will keep track of the young bird by looking out for a bald eagle with a purple leg-band, which is viewable through binoculars.
The San Bernardino Mountains have the largest winter population of eagles in Southern California, where mountain lakes and streams offer prime hunting grounds. Ten to 20 eagles can be found in the region during a typical winter. Many migrate north in spring to nest.
The live camera in the San Bernardino National Forest was installed by the group Friends of Big Bear Valley and can be viewed here.