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.

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5 comments so far

  1. Jen on

    Okay, so skipping over the Barry Bonds comment…Were you listening to the Alaska CD when you saw the bald eagle? lol =) Just yesterday I was watching a hawk in our tree and thinking “wow, they sure are small compared to the bald eagles we saw.” Those are huge birds!
    Speaking of phones…the guys talked about their phones (and other company’s phones) the WHOLE way up to the snow on the teen snow activity. I was amazed at their level of enthusiasm over what their phones can do, and their stamina to keep up the convo the entire way. Did you know Craig has an app that measures his heart rate? He does, he showed us. lol.

  2. Jay on

    That woulda been too much to have Bro. Smallwood’s CD going!

  3. Becka on

    My husband has seen roughly 8 bald eagles (at different times) over here in the mid-atlantic. To my great dismay, EVERY time I have not been with him. Only once I saw 2 in the wild, but they were so far away, that they were pretty much specks in the binoculars. So I don’t count that. One of these days I’m going to see one for myself! And hopefully get a picture!

  4. Jay on

    Well, you’re just gonna have to come on down to sunny San Diego!

  5. Ron Guiles on

    Just for the record, I live across from the Del Mar race track. We have been seeing osprey for several years now. But most recently, I have spotted a much bigger Eagle that seems to never flaps his wings, unlike like the osprey that I see. I have spotted him 4-5 times in the past three weeks. In my excitement, I guestimated that his wings were are about eight feet wide. So in reality probably about six or seven. His wings seem much deeper from front to back than the osprey, looks to me like about 12 inches. Starting at a low elevation, this paticular bird soars in big circles catching the updraft and heads east over the river basin, through the valley, toward the mountains. HIs tail is a huge fan, about 12 inches wide and light in color. At first I was guessing he is a Golden but as I have read today maybe he is a bald eagle. I know one thing, when he is at a low elevation the ravens pairs try to harass him out of the area. Unlike the red tail hawks who sometimes turn talons up to ward off the ravens, this eagle is so big he just soars and pays little attention to them. Interesting! Bald or Golden Eagle, any thoughts? Ron


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