By Charlotte Orr
Saturday marked National Bird Day, a day to reflect on the survival and well-being of the world’s birds. National Bird Day was established by bird activists to bring awareness to issues affecting captive and wild birds, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to be thankful for the native wild birds we see outside our windows.
Whether you are a bird owner, bird watcher or simply a wildlife enthusiast, what better way to celebrate National Bird Day than signing up for an outing to view our national bird, the American bald eagle?
During January and February, the Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes to look for wintering bald eagles in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County. Hikers will enjoy scenic vistas of the Cache Creek Canyon, where eagles often soar over the creek and perch in streamside trees.
The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is host to California’s second-largest population of wintering bald eagles. Winter is the best time to look for these brilliant birds because they tend to concentrate in small areas. With open water and fresh food sources such as catfish and carp, the Cache Creek Natural Area provides the perfect habitat for wintering bald eagles as they feed, soar and roost until about mid-April.
Spotting a bald eagle in person is not only an impressive sight, but also an inspiring reminder of how the species has recovered from near-extinction.
Although bald eagles have made a remarkable comeback, continued conservation is necessary to keep populations strong. Wild birds are an integral part of the natural community, but they need healthy habitats to survive. Permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region will provide a safeguard for all of the unique birds and wildlife that we are able to come into close contact with and enjoy.
This National Bird Day, consider the wonderful diversity of birds, such as the bald eagle, living right here in our back yard. Take the opportunity to see it yourself, by signing up for the Bureau of Land Management’s free guided bald eagle hikes.
Participants in the guided hikes often spot other wildlife, including tule elk, golden eagles, osprey, herons, red-tailed hawks and egrets. Guided hikes will take place on Saturdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 and Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23. They will start at 10 a.m. at the Redbud Trailhead parking area, eight miles east of Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20. The hikes are four miles long (including a steep 600-foot climb in the first mile) and will last three to four hours.
Participants should wear sturdy hiking boots suitable for wet conditions and dress for cold weather. In addition, participants should bring water, a lunch and binoculars.
Space is limited. Reserve a spot by contacting the Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office at 707-468-4000.
For more information on permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, visit www.berryessasnowmountain.org
— This column, published monthly, is produced by Tuleyome, a regional conservation organization based in Woodland. Charlotte Orr, a member of the Tuleyome staff, graduated from UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in community and regional development, emphasizing environmental policy and education.