Bald Eagles at Irvine Lake Mark Raptors' Return to Orange County Since the 1920s

Wonderful Pistachios
The bald eagles that have returned to Orange County aren't even on leashes.

Bald eagles, once threatened with extinction, are reportedly nesting near Irvine Lake in Silverado.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise has the scoop, under the byline of Gail Wesson and the Orange County Register's longtime science scribe Pat Brennan, who sources say has taken the buyout.

Bald eagle haven't been in Orange County since the 1920s at Laguna Beach, according to the report that pinpoints their new location as being off the 241 toll road. A pair has been breeding at Irvine Lake since 2011, returning from parts north to raise two chicks per season. The parents and chicks were reportedly spotted there on May 30.

The population of bald eagles sharply declined due to the pesticide DDT having accumulated in their tissues, causing them to lay eggs with shells so thin they could not hatch viable offspring. Eagles have slowly recovered since DDT was banned in the early 1970s.

"This pair came from the north somewhere, we don't know why or how," says Scott Thomas, a raptor expert who has been monitoring birds of prey in Orange County for 20 years, in the article. "It's a range expansion, back into where they were supposed to be."

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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DDT wasn't used until after WWII, so that doesn't explain eagles leaving Laguna in the 1920's. There must have been some other cause.


Bald Eagles mostly scavenge or steal their food from other birds, usually Ospreys.  Ben Franklin argued for the Turkey to be our national bird.  Ben was right.

fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter

PS OC needs more Bald Eagles and fewer Chickenhawks...

JGlanton topcommenter

I've seen a bald eagle somewhere else in OC last fall. Flying with a fish in it's claws. Beautiful.


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paullucas714 topcommenter

This is bad news for the Irvine company that wants to build mc-mansions on Irvine lake. Federal law prohibits building in Bald Eagle habitats.

18usc241 topcommenter

My wife and I saw bald eagles on at least two occasions in Rancho Santa Margarita in the 1997-2003 time period. We lived 1/4 mile away from Antonio Parkway and the 241.

A much more pleasant experience than watching bald headed Orange County Sheriffs deputies acting like harassing idiots in same area during same timeframe.

fishwithoutbicycle topcommenter


Unfortunately, I'm sure the Irvine Co. will try to find a way around the law. It's just like the ongoing battle for the Bolsa Chica's a wildlife habitat AND a Native American burial ground but developers still keep trying to build more houses on it. :-(

paullucas714 topcommenter

@MatthewTCoker @fishwithoutbicycle @paullucas714 The tribes and culture had all but been wiped out by the Spanish at San Juan Capistrano before the USA was even free from Britain. The Juanenos and Gabrielenos you se how are mostly fakes. The story of the local tribes have been stitched together from bits and pieces and holes filled in then promoted as truth. 

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