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Big Bear bald eagle chick takes flight for the first-time

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — At long last, the highly monitored juvenile male bald eagle in Big Bear has fledged. At 6:19 a.m., while viewers watched live online, the young eagle let out a call and flew off screen. Bald eagles typically to fledge between 10 and 12 weeks of age, but this eagle took his time, fledging at 14 weeks old.

“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.”

Biologists will be able to monitor the eagle because of a purple leg-band with the white lettering “ZR-1,” which is viewable with binoculars. It will take five years for him to obtain the white head and tail, when he will likely find a mate and establish a breeding territory.

The area around the nest will remain closed through July 31 to allow the eagle to use the area undisturbed. Law enforcement will continue patrols. Eagles often use its nest or the nearby area as it continues to learn to fly. The parents will continue to hunt and deliver food.

On August 1, when the forest order closing the area has expired, the public is welcome to use the lower portion of Gray’s Peak Trail, Yellow Post Campsite #1, and forest roads 2N70 (Grays Peak) and 2N04X (Lumpy). (Note: While the roads will be available to hikers and cyclists, vehicles will still not be able to access them because forest road 2N13 [Snow Slide], which connects to them, is gated after damage from storms this past winter.)

The mother of the eagle laid two eggs in early March, followed by two eaglets hatching on April 15 and 16. One of the male eaglets died Memorial Day Weekend during a late winter storm. The survival rate of bald eagles is less than 50 percent in their first year of life.

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