November 23, 2011 in Outdoors

Eagle numbers down sharply on Lake Cd’A

By The Spokesman-Review
Kathy Plonka photo

A bald eagle is perched on a branch at Higgins Point above Lake Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. Birdwatchers and photographers gather along the lake’s eastern arm this time of year to watch the eagles. The birds migrate through the region on their way south each December.
(Full-size photo)

The annual gathering of bald eagles that feast on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene is getting off to a slow start.

The eagle count at Wolf Lodge Bay is down about 70 percent from last year at this time, said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist.

Hugo made the first weekly survey of the season on Tuesday and counted only 12 bald eagles compared with 42 counted on the same day last year.

“It could be the storm we just had,” she said. “We’ll be out on the lake Saturday for the special eagle boat cruise for veterans, so we’ll see if the changing weather makes a difference.”

She also points out that 2010 was a record year for the migration as 254 eagles were counted in the bay during the BLM survey on Dec. 21.

The eagles traditionally start gathering in mid-November, peaking in numbers during December before the birds start moving on as the fish spawning ends in January.

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