facebook youtube linkedin instagram twitter




Bald Eagles and the San Diego River

By Kristofer Gonazalez

Field Coordinator, Research and Restoration


In the heart of San Diego County, amidst the shimmering waters surrounding El Capitan Reservoir, the majestic Bald Eagles have found a haven. With their imposing wingspans, roughly 8 feet, and iconic white-feathered heads, these raptors symbolize strength, resilience, and freedom. As we delve into the world of Bald Eagles in San Diego, we uncover a tale of conservation success and environmental stewardship.

While Bald Eagles are often associated with the North Pacific and the bountiful waters of the Puget Sound, El Capitan Reservoir, nestled just a few dozen miles from the heart of downtown San Diego, serves as a vital habitat for these magnificent birds. El Capitan Reservoir has become a prime location for Bald Eagle nesting, thanks to its abundant fish population, which is a key factor for the success of these birds.

Historically, the Bald Eagle faced severe challenges, including shooting and poisoning by DDT and lead. At its lowest numbers, fewer than 30 nesting pairs remained in California, all in the northern third of the State. Consequently, it was among the first species formerly listed as endangered by the federal government in 1967. However, with concerted efforts to control these adverse factors, the population has experienced a remarkable resurgence since the 1980s.

Observing these majestic creatures soaring high above the reservoir's tranquil waters is not only a testament to their resilience but also a reminder of the importance of preserving their habitat. As stewards of the land, it is our responsibility to ensure the continued protection of these iconic birds and their natural habitats. Imagine standing on the shores of the reservoir, surrounded by the tranquil beauty of nature. The sun sets behind the rolling hills, casting a warm amber glow over the calm waters. Suddenly, a pair of bald eagles swoop down from the sky, their wings outstretched as they glide gracefully over the reservoir. It's a breathtaking sight, a reminder of the importance of preserving this pristine environment for generations to come.



Devasting floodwatersFloodwaters strike encampments in SD Riverbed

Effort launched to help flood victims living in Riverbed and for future storms

In January and February 7+ foot high floodwaters washed out many areas where people were living.


Sadly, two people were washed away and died. Several have been rescured. Preliminary reporting indicates that they were experiencing homelessness. Our Fall 2023 survey documented 375 people living in the riverbed and nearby areas


The floodwaters inudated encampments. . Things that many take for granted like toothbrushes and toothpaste, dry socks and warm bedding were gone. Medication, identification, and other essential items were lost. For others, items were muddy and soggy, and they tried to make the most of it.


The San Diego River Park Foundation coordinated donations to support a response to this tragedy and to get ready for future storms.

You are invited to join the ongoing response effort:

  • Create Care kits - groups and individuals can contact our office at 619-297-7380 to make arrangements to stop by Wednesdays or Thursdays (9AM - 2PM). 1 - 2 Hours
  • Hike the River after floods hand out kits or before storms noticing. Dates vary based on rain! Generally takes about 2 1/2 hours. Focused efforts are Mission Valley or Santee.

    Community members will be trained and guided to visit people living across nearly 20 miles of the San Diego River to hand out care packages with essential items, to connect people in encampments with available resources, and to warn people when flooding is predicted. We will also post signs at known entry points to further warn about potential flooding.



We have already collected 1000s of socks. Thank you to all who responded!
For the care packages, we need

  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • hand wipes (individually wrapped or small packeges) biodegradble preferred
  • individually wrapped rain panchos
  • individually wrapped food bars (soft chew preferred due to dental issues) We will place 4 in each bag
  • 1 gal. reseable bags (to put the items in)
  • warm caps are also appreciated!


Donations of cash to purchase gifts cards (suggest $20) to local fast food places for a warm meal are especially appreciated.


Importantly, we will work to visit sites after every flood to check on people and replace items. This is also a good way to build trust. We partner with PATH San Diego and others to connect people when they are ready to available services. Our many programs know the Riverbed very well. We know most of the people living in the Riverbed by name. We have adapted our weekly mapping efforts to collect information about the location of each encampment. Because of this, we are best equiped to make this effort. But we need you!

How to Help

1. Volunteer. Email us at or call 619-297-7380

2. Donate items above or cash. If your group, business or class would like to help with a care package making party or are collecting items, fantastic!

3. Let your elected representative know that people living in the riverbed need a flood warning system and more flood response resources

Make a donation to help respond to some of
San Diego's most vulnerable impacted by the floods


Donations can be mailed to:

The San Diego River Park Foundation

4891 Pacific Highway, Suite 114

San Diego, CA 92110


As a 501c3 qualified nonprofit, all gifts are tax deductible as provided by law.
EIN 01-0565671


Donations can also be made by:


VENMO to @sandiegoriver (please indicate for flood response)

By phone: 619-297-73080


Donate Online



For more information, please call the San Diego River Park Foundation at 619-297-7380 or email


Thank you!


News Releases (PDF)


3/15/2024 Major Milestone for River Center at Grant Park
2/24/2024 Big Community Clean-up Scheduled


River Days

Earth Day - Mural Painting Project

Annual Estuary Kayak Cleanup

Lillian Hill Acquisition Success!


For media inquiries, please contact

Alexa Lewis Risenfeld

Manager - Philanthropy and Communications

email or call 619-297-7380

River Stories - Printed Newsletter


2023 - Fall Edition (PDF)



Fashion Valley River Restoration Project

January 2023


Location: San Diego River between 163 and Town and Country Resort

Partners: San Diego River Park Foundaiton, Fashion Valley and Urban Corps of San Diego

Goal: To remove non-native invasive plants so that native plants flourish


  • improved habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife
  • remove non-native plants which compete against native plants
  • reduce flooding
  • open area up
  • remove trash and other pollution


How to get involved

  • Join us for a Tour! Tours will be organized. Let us know you are interested and your availability. Small groups will go on a walking tour and learn about the strategies and benefits of restoring this area. You will see the river up close.
  • Volunteer on Tuesdays to join Team Impact as they work with SDRPF staff to implement the restoration plan.
  • Volunteer for a future river cleanup at this location.



Please email Natalie or call us at 619-297-7380 to learn more. Thanks!



Recent Photos





Additional Photos will be posted soon.




Sign up for our free Newsletter and get up to date information.
Sign up today »