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Bald Eagle Watch Week starts Dec. 27 at Lake CdA

Accurate scanner: As snow begins to fall over Lake Coeur d’Alene, a bald eagle perches in a tree along Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive and scans for dying kokanee salmon near the lake’s surface on Thursday. The annual southward migration of bald eagles has begun and the number of birds, drawn by the availability of spawned out salmon, will peak around Christmas and New Year’s, then taper off as they continue south. (Jesse Tinsley)
Accurate scanner: As snow begins to fall over Lake Coeur d’Alene, a bald eagle perches in a tree along Lake Coeur d’Alene Drive and scans for dying kokanee salmon near the lake’s surface on Thursday. The annual southward migration of bald eagles has begun and the number of birds, drawn by the availability of spawned out salmon, will peak around Christmas and New Year’s, then taper off as they continue south. (Jesse Tinsley)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- The 25th annual Eagle Watch Week sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Fish and Game is set for Dec. 27-31 based out of the Mineral Ridge boat launch and the Mineral Ridge trailhead parking areas along the eastern shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene. 

The event is keyed to the holiday break and the peak of the kokanee spawning that lures bald eagles to Wolf Lodge Bay.

BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo counted 126 bald eagles in the area two weeks ago, exceeding the 34 eagles the survey tallied at the same time last year for the November-January gathering.

No eagle survey was conducted last week. Today Hugo counted 81 eagles but said conditions were poor and she believes there are more eagles in the area. 

"Typically numbers peak this week so I don't feel that this accurately reflects what is really out there," she said. "Snow on the trees camouflages adults quite well.

"It was a difficult count.... The beginning was windy with many eagles flying and the middle was a white-out at Blue Creek and at Higgens Point. So take today's numbers with a grain of salt:"

Each day during Eagle Watch Week, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., ( event ends at 2 p.m. on Dec. 31) the two Mineral Ridge parking areas will be the hub of activity. High-power spotting scopes will be set up in these prime eagle viewing spots, along with interpretive displays.

Eagle “ambassadors” will be at the sites each day to answer questions regarding the lifeways and habitat of bald eagles.  

Eagle watching visitors must use designated parking areas. Parking is not allowed along Highway 97. 

For rare cases when severe weather does not permit setting up equipment or staffing the viewing sites, the BLM has set up an “Eagle Watch Hotline” with daily status update during Eagle Watch Week: Call (208) 769-5048 after 9 a.m.




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Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.