Pair of bald eagles now nesting in Ramona Grasslands: Nest is first this close to San Diego

RAMONA, Calif. - Two bald eagles have built a nest in a eucalyptus tree in Ramona. It is the first time in San Diego County's known history that a pair has built a nest this close to San Diego.

"They're totally wild birds," said Dave Bittner, the executive director for the Wildlife Research Institute in Ramona. "Nobody brought them in here."

Bittner said the eagles started building the nest two months ago in the middle of the Ramona Grasslands, a wildlife reserve. He said bald eagles migrate through San Diego every winter but never stay to start a family.

"It's absolutely unique and it's a part of what we're seeing throughout the country," he said.

The symbol of the United States was endangered in the 1970s. The species is currently on the threatened list. 

Bittner has a high hope that couples like the one in Ramona will take the bald eagle off that list as well. He expects them to lay eggs within a month and hatch as early as March.

He said the only things that would threaten that process are curious looky-loos who get too close with their cameras and hunters who recently have illegally hunted coyotes on the grasslands.

"That means there are people around with high-powered rifles, so we are concerned about that also," said Bittner.

Luckily, the nest, which is 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep, is on the reserve.

"They flew in on their own and decided it was a good place to be," said Bittner.

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