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Tue., Nov. 26, 2013, 6 a.m.

Could CdA eagles be detoured by super-sized meal?

Graph shows fall chinook salmon returns at Bonneville Dam through Sept. 12, 2013.  By 1 p.m. on Sept. 13, the salmon run had eclipsed the record of 610,700 fish counted in 2003.  (Fish Passage Center)
Graph shows fall chinook salmon returns at Bonneville Dam through Sept. 12, 2013. By 1 p.m. on Sept. 13, the salmon run had eclipsed the record of 610,700 fish counted in 2003. (Fish Passage Center)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Birders and biologists were scratching their heads last week at reports of the dearth of bald eagles gathering to feed on on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay.

Could the revival of kokanee at Lake Pend Oreille be detouring eagles that normally would be flocking to Lake CdA by now?

Are the eagles simply late in coming?

Reader Eric Brady has a different observation that spawns another theory:

I have observed a much higher number of eagles on the Clearwater River near Lewiston compared to prior years and it appears that the eagles are feeding on dying fall Chinook, which returned in post-dam-era record numbers to the Snake River and its tributaries this  year.    On one gravel bar last weekend, I saw 5 eagles within 20 feet of each other.    On quite a few occasions this fall, I have seen 2-3 eagles feeding in close proximity near the waterline.   In prior years, it has not been uncommon to see eagles flying overhead when fishing on the Clearwater, but rarely have I seen an eagle on a gravel bar – let alone in numbers.    

Perhaps there are fewer eagles at Lake CDA as they are feasting on the record run of fall Chinook?

 




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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