Bald Eagles … in San Diego?
And I’m not talking about at the San Diego Zoo!
Last week, driving back up from America’s Finest City after a funeral, I spotted a rather large bird hovering above the 15 freeway. It’s not uncommon to see golden eagles along rural stretches of SoCal’s freeways. My initial reaction was that this had to be a “major league” golden eagle, pumped up on the ‘roids (or, at the very least, partaking in Barry Bonds’ miracle clear cream). As we drove closer, it became clear that the head was a lighter color than the body. More and more impressed by its immense size, I asked My BBQ Honey if it could be a California condor. Then it made a bit of a downward turn and it sure looked to me like it had a white head and white tail. But it had to be some weird shimmering of the mid-afternoon sun.
As we drove right under it, I knew My BBQ Honey would be getting a really good look at it. I asked, “Does it have a white head? You think it’s a condor?” I had to throw in the second question to keep some semblance of realism in my mind. She told me that it definitely had a white head.
“Crazy,” I said. “I wonder what other species of bird has a white head.”
And I really figured that we had seen some kind of avian copycat. But I couldn’t get over how huge it was. I saw a bunch of bald eagles in Alaska, and I can tell you that there are few more majestic sights in nature. Whatever I saw in North County San Diego was pretty amazing. If we had our camera with us, it would’ve been quite a shot. I guess we could’ve gotten a pretty good pic with My BBQ Honey’s phone **waves iPhone at Jen**.
Enter Google. Turns out bald eagles will winter in SoCal (can you blame them?). There are even a few that have made the southland their permanent home. Granted, we’re not talking Alaska numbers. There are volunteer bald eagle counters who do their best to tally them up each year and there may be no more than a couple dozen in the entire region. So, yeah, in our neck of the woods, a bald eagle sighting is quite rare. But it’s a real treat when it happens!
Looking back on my experience, I can now recall a couple more details. The San Diego bald eagle was quite different than its far north cousins. For one, it had a much better tan. Secondly, the fish it had in its mighty talons was wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with cabbage, pico de gallo and crema. Evolution, it’s a funny thing.