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Aerial eagle assault at CdA documented in photos

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WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles generally seem to be at peace with each other as they congregate each winter to feast on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay. But for some unclear reason, a group of eagles ganged up on another adult eagle as shown in a series photos by Bob Griffith.

The Spokane wildlife photographer captured the images across the mouth of Beauty Bay from a quarter mile away on Dec. 19 — just before a record 273 bald eagles were counted at the lake by a BLM wildlife biologist.

“Several eagles ganged up on the one and forced it into the water,” Griffith said. “Then one or more buzzed the downed eagle as if to try to drown it.”

The victim eagle in the water faced each attacking eagle, raising its talons in defense, but taking a dunking in the process.

“It eventually paddled its way to shore but the attack didn’t stop,” Griffith said. “I finally lost sight as it went back into the woods—on foot.”

Another record eagle count logged today at CdA Lake

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A record 273 bald eagles was counted today — Dec. 29 — at Lake Coeur d'Alene, making this the best year ever to take in the annual Eagle Watch Week activities.

Bald eagles are gathering in record numbers at in the Wolf Lodge Bay to feast on spawning kokanee.

Here's the information just received from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which conducts the weekly surveys.

The count is up from last week and the likely reason why is due to snow covering the trees during last Thursday’s count. Snow of course acts as camouflage for the adults especially. Today’s weather is ideal for counting! Carrie Hugo, wildlife biologist, noted that she counted over 35 eagles in the Blue Creek Bay area which is unusually high for that location. She thought it may be due to the windy conditions and that the bay offers some protection.

One important item for Eagle Watch: due to high winds yesterday, we were unable to have the spotting scopes, information pamphlets and the canopy tents up. Today, due to winds earlier we only held the Watch site at the Mineral Ridge Trailhead location. We just can’t risk the scopes or the display birds being blown over. We are watching tomorrow’s weather closely as it appears wind may again be a factor. We plan to have staff out but may not be able to have scopes or informational materials available.

Eagle Watch Week runs through Sunday.

 Drive east east from Coeur d’Alene on Interstate-90 and take Wolf Lodge Exit 22. Follow Highay 97 south a short way to exhibits and spotting scopes at the Mineral Ridge boat ramp. The volunteers will be on hand to offer information about the eagles from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day through next Sunday.

Cruise boat tours geared to eagle watching will launch daily this week from the Coeur d’Alene Resort this weekend. Book seats on resort’s website or call (208) 765-4000.

Bald eagle numbers may be peaking at CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The number of bald eagles gathering at Lake Coeur d'Alene appears to have peaked or may be declining slightly after last week's record count of 259 birds in Wolf Lodge Bay.

In today's survey, a total of 237 bald eagles — 204 adults and 33 immature — were counted in the weekly survey by BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo.  That's down slightly, but Hugo notes in the survey report that viewing conditions were fairly difficult because of the sun shining into her spotting scope and snow on the trees making it difficult to pick out the white heads of the adults.

The 2010 peak count — a record at that time — was 254 bald eagles surveyed on Dec. 23.

“As usual, lots of birds were seen on the south shore across from Higgens Point and many were on the west side of Beauty Bay,” Hugo said. 

“Lots of Eagle Watchers out today as well.  The Mineral Ridge Trailhead parking lot was packed!  There are still many kokanee floundering around and there were plenty of opportunities to see eagles fishing on the wing today.”

Eagle Watch Week runs Dec. 26-Jan. 1, with volunteers offering information and offering use of spotting scopes 10 a.m.-3 p.m. south of the Wolf Lodge exit 22 from Interstate 90.

It’s a record! Bald eagles mobbing Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are mobbing Lake Coeur d’Alene in record numbers this week.

On Thursday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo returned from an eagle cruise boat tour and reported that eagles were “all over the place” compared to just the week before, when her weekly survey counted 136 bald eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay.

She confirmed her notion Friday with the fourth official survey of the season, tallying a record 259 eagles congregating to feast on spawning kokanee. That's an increase of 123 in just one week.

Friday’s congregation breaks the record of 254 eagles counted in the bay on Dec. 21, 2010.

The record previous to that was a mere 154 eagles in 2004.

Hugo counted 215 adults and 44 juveniles Friday, noting that most of the fish-loving birds were hanging out in the Beauty Bay area and the hillside just across the water from Higgens Point.

More eagles could be coming in, since the peak of the congregation traditionally has been just before Christmas.

BLM, Idaho Fish and Game and Audubon Society volunteers are organizing the annual Eagle Watch Week, Dec. 26-Jan. 1 (take I-90 Wolf Lodge Exit 22) with free exhibits to educate visitors about this confluence of propagation, death and survival.  Volunteers will be available

at the Mineral Ridge boat launch and trailhead parking areas, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day during Eagle Watch Week. 

Eagle cruises launching

Reservations are filling fast for cruise boat tours to view bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay.

Tours are set to launch from the Coeur d’Alene Resort this weekend, Dec. 24 and Dec 26-Jan. 1

Book seats on resort’s website or call (208) 765-4000.

Related news: 

Washington DNR considers removing bald eagles, pergrine falcons from state Forest Practices Board’s critical habitats list.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearing regarding proposed changes to state Forest Practices Rules on Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Southeast Region Office, 713 E Bowers in Ellensburg

One proposed rule will amend Forest Practices Board rules on threatened and endangered species to be consistent with other state laws. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission already has removed the bald eagle from the state’s threatened and endangered species lists, following removal from the federal endangered species listing. DNR's proposed rule change would remove the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon from the Forest Practices Board’s critical habitats list.

Bald Eagles Mob Lake Coeur d’Alene

Bald eagles are mobbing Lake Coeur d’Alene in record numbers this week. On Thursday, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo returned from an eagle cruise boat tour and reported that eagles were “all over the place” compared to just the week before, when her weekly survey counted 136 bald eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay. She confirmed her notion today with the fourth official survey of the season, tallying a record 259 eagles congregating to feast on spawning kokanee. That's an increase of 123 in just one week. Friday’s congregation breaks the record of 254 eagles counted in the bay on Dec. 21, 2010/Rich Landers, SR Outdoors blog. More here.

Bald eagle numbers continue to soar at Lake CdA

BIRDWATCHING – The season’s third survey of bald eagles congregating at Lake Coeur d’Alene found another big jump in numbers from the previous week.

Today's survey found 112 adults (white heads) and 24 immature eagles (under 4 years old with dark heads) for a total of 136, said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist.

About 80 eagles were counted at Wolf Lodge Bay last week.

Even more are expected before their numbers peak later this month to feed on spawning kokanee.

The annual Eagle Watch celebration, with displays, experts and spotting scopes, is set for Dec. 26-Jan. 1 in the Wolf Lodge Bay area south of I-90.

Stay tuned for details next week.

CdA bald eagle survey canceled this week

BIRDWATCHING — The weekly fall/winter survey of bald eagles congregating at Lake Coeur d'Alene has been cancelled this week as BLM staffers are in training meetings.

But the birds are there by the dozens, as you learned last week in this blog post followed by a more detailed account in my Thursday column.

A survey early next week should give us an update on whether the eagles continue to set a pace toward record numbers for their annual gathering to feast on spawning kokanee at Wolf Lodge Bay.

Eagles Return To Lake Coeur d’Alene

 A week can make a big difference in the numbers of bald eagles gathering for their annual feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene. On Tuesday, the season's second weekly eagle count at Wolf Lodge Bay tallied a whopping 76 bald eagles, said BLM wildlife bioloigst Carrie Hugo. That compares with 64 eagles counted on the same date last year. That's exciting news for birdwatchers, considering that 2010 was a record year for the migration, with a peak of 254 eagles counted in the bay during the BLM survey on Dec. 21. Tuesday's count indicated a big swing in eagle movements. The first survey of the season on Nov. 22 found only 12 bald eagles compared with 42 counted on the same day in 2010/Rich Landers, SR. More here.

Question: Did you view the eagles last year?

Bald eagles finally flocking to Lake CdA for annual feast

WILDLIFE WATCHING – A week can make a big difference in the numbers of bald eagles gathering for their annual feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene.

On Tuesday, the season's second weekly eagle count at Wolf Lodge Bay tallied a whopping 76 bald eagles, said BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo. That compares with 64 eagles counted on the same date last year.

That's exciting news for birdwatchers, considering that 2010 was a record year for the migration, with a peak of 254 eagles counted in the bay during the BLM survey on Dec. 21. 

Tuesday's count indicated a big swing in eagle movements. The first survey of the season on Nov. 22 found only 12 bald eagles compared with 42 counted on the same day in 2010.

Top viewing areas are from Higgens Point as well as south from the Wolf Lodge Exit off I-90 on Highway 97 around to Beauty Bay.

  • Read more details tomorrow in my Thursday Outdoors column regarding eagles and how they might be be linked to the numbers of kokanee in the region's lakes.

Bald eagles taking their time getting to Lake CdA for annual gathering

WILDLIFE WATCHING – 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 by 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: 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.

Lake CdA eagle cruise for veterans, military and families

WILDLIFE WATCHING  – Veterans and active military are being honored with a special eagle-watching cruise set for Nov. 26 on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The free two-hour partyboat cruise to view the annual congregation of bald eagles is organized by the U.S  Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Fish and Game.

Participants are invited along with their immediate families must make reservations by calling (208) 769-5043. Seating is limited to 160.

Migrating eagles visit the Coeur d’Alene area in winter to take advantage of the kokanee spawning in Wolf Lodge Bay. 

The eagles already are starting to show up and numbers will build to a peak in December before the birds start moving on the spawning ends in January.

Last winter, a record 254 eagles were counted in the bay by BLM biologists on Dec. 21.

Woman charged for pawned eagle parts

A Spokane woman who police say pawned a staff containing bald eagle feathers and talons has been charged with a crime.

Kristina D. Booth faces up to a year in prison, five years probation and a $5,000 fine if convicted of knowingly selling any bald eagle part.

Booth is accused of selling the staff for $40 at the Double Eagle Pawn Shop in October 2009.

Agents with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife were notified of a staff containing five bald eagle feathers and one eagle claw with four talons in February. They identifed Booth as the seller through store records.

Booth was in the Spokane County Jail on drug charges when agents approached her; she said the feathers were from a goose before admitting they were eagle feathers, according to court documents.

Booth has bee summoned to an arraignment U.S. District Court.

Fledgling ‘EagleCam’ star found dead

WILDLIFE WATCHING— One of the young eagles monitored on a popular Seattle-area EagleCam has died, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The fledgling eagles were just learning how to fly when one was found dead near the nest tree Tuesday. There were no visible injuries to how the bird died.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents have taken the dead eagle and a necropsy is planned to determine the cause of death.

Wildlife officials say the surviving young eagle appears fine and has mastered basic flying 101. The young eagle may leave the nest soon or continue using it as a temporarily feeding and roosting site.

The EagleCam live video streams an eagle nest egg perched atop a 200-year-old Douglas Fir tree in Seattle.

Thousands of regular viewers have watched the eagles from when they hatched about four months ago to when they took their first flight just days ago.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's network of eagle cams has become an obsession to some eagle fans and an important way to educate the public and get the involved in efforts to protect the rebounding population.

Eagle cams: Eaglets branch out from nest, eager to fledge

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The three rapidly maturing bald eagle youngsters in a 4-foot-wide tree-top nest are testing their wings, clearly eager for the upcoming first flight, as the world can see under the excellent Decorah Fish Hatchery web-cam in Iowa.

As of this morning, people have logged on to view the spectacle more than 154 million times since the adult bald eagles nested in March and the eaglets hatched in early April!

Camera operators are able to pan the lens to show eaglets off the nest and using their wings to “branch out” from the nests.  It's literally any minute or any day now before they take their first flights.

Leaving the webcam running on the computer while doing other tasks has been educational during the growth period.  For instance, my wife and I witnessed how the nest stays relatively clean despite the three diaperless chicks.

Starting from soon after they hatched, the eaglets have the muscle tone to eliminate their waste in a powerful stream they instinctly direct up and out of the nest.  Amazing to watch from the webcam.  But look out below!

Meantime, closer to home, at least two eaglets hatched around Earth Day at a Lake Washington bald eagle nest (near Seattle).  They are a little more than two weeks  younger than the Iowa eaglets.The camera placement doesn't offer  the intimate view of the Decorah eagle cam, but it's an interesting perspective.

Bald eagles pound Columbia terns, boost salmon

 WILDLIFE — Harassed in recent weeks by bald eagles, the world’s largest Caspian tern colony for the past decade “collapsed entirely” last week with the last of some 5,000 nests plundered, according to a report in the Columbia Basin Bulletin.

The constant hunting pressure from the eagles scared terns off their nests so much they were unable to raise their young.

The lower Columbia River island’s double crested cormorant colony, which is also believed to be the world’s largest, has also been besieged this spring by bald eagles, peregrine falcons and great horned owls.

The research updates are posted on Bird Research Northwest’s web site:

The level of “disturbance” caused by the bald eagles is unprecedented, according to researchers who have been monitoring the island since the late 1990s.

The tern colony has grown significantly since it was first documented in 1984 taking advantage of unnatural islands created by dredging.

The terns soon became a new major consumer of salmon and steelhead smolts.

Eagle cam: Eaglets are beefing up


Webcam chat at Ustream

WILDLIFE — Less than two weeks old, three eaglets are starting to get big enough in their nest that the parents have a hard time settling down for a restful night.

Stay tuned along with about 4 million viewers EACH DAY watching as a bald eagle family flourishes in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

Some drama darkened the nest last night. 

Viewers watching the web cam at midnight reported that an owl came close enough to rile the eagle parents, who did a good job of letting the owl know the nest was off limits.

One eagle cam fan captured about 5 minutes of the action and posted it on YouTube. The eagles are quite vocal, although there's a buzz in the audio.

The YouTube poster says you can fast-forward to about the 4:27 and 4:52 marks to hear the owl calling back

If you want a review, here are some highlight clips of the major developments:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling
  

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

Click here for a  tutorial on telling the difference between the male and female bald eagle adults, which share the duties of raising the young.

Eagle cam: Mothers may have tough time watching Mother Nature at work

WILDLIFE — Excitement has turned to concern as we watch the drama in the eagle nest. On Sunday, it ws clear the web cam operator was zooming in frequently to let viewers see what might be unfolding.

It was exciting to see the third eaglet hatch Wednesday afternoon, but now it's unclear whether the latecomer — born nearly five days after the first eagle — will survive.

Stay tuned along with millions of viewers — more than 30 million views as of this weekend — watching as a bald eagle family emerges in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

From the smorgsbord of food items… fish, bunnies, ducks … the adult eagles tend to feed the most food to the most aggressive chicks — a bit of survival of the fittest at work.  

The oldest eaglet often crawls over the top of the weaker eaglet to get its fill, and has been observed picking on the little one. On Sunday the youngest chick was hanging in there. I watched a feeding at 11:15 a.m. and it looked like the littlest chick was getting its fill! 

The family will do fine with just two eaglets, but the chat indicates that viewers are hopeful and anxious.

If you want a review, here are some highlight clips of the major developments:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling
  

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

Click here for a  tutorial on telling the difference between the male and female bald eagle adults, which share the duties of raising the young.
  

Third eagle hatches in nest live on web cam at 4:46 p.m.

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The third eaglet has just hatched.  It's unclear whether the latecomer — born nearly five days after the first eagle — will survive.

Stay tuned along with millions of viewers watching as a bald eagle family emerges in a northeast Iowa nest under the watchful eye of a web cam that's capturing the activity live at the Decorah Fish Hatchery.

I was viewing this site with my colleagues minutes ago as the adult felt a little tickle, stood up, and we watched as the third and last eaglet began wiggling out of its egg at 4:46 p.m.  Its two siblings were watching.

I believe I got to see the first wobbling little white fluff ball get its first meal on April 2 after the other adult delivered a rabbit.  The parent went right for the nutritious entrails.  Since  then, a second eaglet has hatched and the adults have delivered several birds, apparently ducks, to the nest dinner table.

I've seen the adults share the duties of hunting and sitting on the nest.  One delivered a duck a few days ago.  A few hours later I check in and saw that the sitting eagle had cleanly plucked the breast, standing up to feed the hungry eaglettes every 40 minutes or so.

One of the adults has just landed and added a fish to the nest smorgasbord at 4:55 p.m. There's at least three fish, two birds and a bunny in the heap. Yum.

This show will only get better as the eagle family grows.

The website has cool features, including short clips of major events in the nest.  For instance:

First hatch 4/2/11.
24-hour collage
of first egg pip and hatch


Second hatch 4/3/11.
First glimpse
of second hatchling

Third hatch 4/6/11.
Close-ups
of the third hatch

The overall website to check out is  www.raptorresource.org .

Tune in, leave the computer on as you do your business around the house, and enjoy. The adult eagles will be raising their young under the camera for weeks.

Nature TV show captures stunning eagle nesting video

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The weather might be lousy, but life is carrying on for wildlife outside and live web cameras are piping the spectacle into the homes of millions of people.

Millions of nature lovers from around the world are watching eaglets in northeast Iowa hatching under the watchful eye and warm bottom of a parent while a web cam captures the activity live the Decorah Fish Hatchery. The first beak could be seen poking out from inside the egg on Friday evening.

Tune in and catch the action, which should pick up today.

These eagles have been attracting about four million page visits a day for the past month to www.raptorresource.org in anticipation of the hatching.

The website has many video clips of the eagle pair preparing their nest, feasting on prey and laying the eggs.

But you can save time and concentrate your interest by viewing the attached professionally produced film feature about an eagle family from the Nature TV program.  If the flash player above doesn't work for you, go to the Nature website.

Today’s CdA bald eagle count: 64

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are dispersing from their annual gathering to feast on kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene, but they're not gone by any means.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, just returned from her weekly survey of the the lake's Wolf Lodge Bay region. She said she tallied 64 bald eagles — 56 adults and 8 immature.  

The count during this week last year was 46 total — 38 adults and 8 immature.

On Jan. 7, 2011, the count was 128 total, including 95 adult and 33 immature eagles. The 2010 count for the same week was 72 eagles — 66 adults and 6 immature, Hugo said

This season's peak was a whopping record count of 254 on Dec. 23.


  

Still plenty of eagles at CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — BLM wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo just returned from her weekly winter survey of bald eagles at Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay.  The count:  128 total, including 95 adult and 33 immature eagles.

The number is down from the whopping record count of 254 on Dec. 23, but it's still far above this time in 2009. Last year's count on Jan. 8 was 72 birds — 66 adults and 6 immature, Hugo said.

Elsewhere, birdwatchers seem to be finding bald eagles scattered throughout the region where they have access to water or roadkill.

On the Spokane Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 2, Kim Thorburn's team counted 29 bald eagles around the Little Spokane in the fish hatchery area.

Joyce Alonso counted 6 bald eagles in the Hangman Creek area.

All of the other teams whose areas included river counted bald eagles, as well.
 

Update on eagle rescued from river

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WILDLIFE — Much like some people you might have seen on New Year's Eve, the immature bald eagle was grounded, wings spread with its head face-down in the snow along the Little Spokane River.

It was rescued after an ordeal and it's still alive Monday evening in the hands of veterinarians.

The Michaelis family spotted it on their land on Dec. 31 just before sunset. They called local birding enthusiast Tina Wynecoop and said they could tell the large bird — they weren't' sure of its identity at the time —  was still breathing.

Wynecoop and her husband, Judge, grabbed bath towels, a quilt and leather gloves and responded in their car.

“On our way we called all the numbers of all the wildlife rescue people we could - what an evening to try to find someone home and available to handle the situation!” Tina said.

Read on for the story and the latest report on the eagle's status.

Record 254 bald eagles sighted

A migrating mature bald eagle cruises above the cold water looking for prey during a stopover  at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

 “I can hardly believe it myself, but the total today was 254, well over the record!” said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist on Thursday after completing her weekly survey of bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay. In the more than two decades BLM has been surveying the annual eagle congregation, the previouis highest count was 156 eagles in December 2004. The 254 birds counted today compares with 104 at the same time last year, Hugo said. And it's a huge leap from the 117 she counted just last week. Read more. Rich Landers/SR

Stories and photos like this remind me of what I miss, stuck indoors. My only experience of bald eagles this season has been through Landers' blog and Brian Plonka's photos. How about you? Have you witnessed the return of these magnificient birds?

Bald eagles set record at CdA today

WILDLIFE WATCHING — “I can hardly believe it myself, but the total today was 254, well over the record!” said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist on Thursday after completing her weekly survey of bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay.

In the more than two decades BLM has been surveying the annual eagle congregation, the previouis highest count was 156 eagles in December 2004.
 
The 254 birds counted today compares with 104 at the same time last year, Hugo said. And it's a huge leap from the 117 she counted just last week.
 
“I looked at my total and wondered if I'd done something wrong,” she said. “Maybe I lost track of time, but no, my time was the usual 2.5 hours.”
 
Viewing conditions were good but not perfect, since there was still some snow on trees which makes it harder to single out the white heads of the adult eagles.
 
The immature eagles under 4 years old have dark heads.
 
The eagles congregate in winter to feast on spawning kokanee. Hugo said the numbers of the land-locked sockeye salmon look strong, so the eagles shouldn’t be leaving too soon.
 
The eagle gathering usually peaks around this time, perfect for holiday break wildlife watching.
 
Wildlife biologists and Audubon Society volunteers will be staffing displays and spotting scopes for the annual Eagle Watch Week at the Mineral Ridge boat ramp and also at the Mineral Ridge trailhead off I-90's Wolf Lodge Bay exit Sunday through Jan. 1 from 10 a.m.to 3 p.m.

Eagle-killers sentenced in Yakima

WILDLIFE CRIMES — Two Yakama Nation tribal members have been sentenced to six months in federal prison for killing and selling more than 100 bald and golden eagles.

Alfred L. Hawk and William R. Wahsise, both in their 20s, pleaded guilty to taking, selling or transporting eagles. They were sentenced Friday in federal court in Yakima.

Prosecutors say they killed more than 100 eagles around the reservation.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the poverty-stricken men relied on subsistence hunting, but they are now barred from possessing guns.

This week’s CdA eagle count: 117

WILDLIFE WATCHING — BLM biologist Carrie Hugo counted 117 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d’Alene during her weekly count on Wednesday. 

The 117 birds — 85 adults with white heads and 32 immature birds — is up from 89 counted last week.

Last year at this time, BLM surveyors counted a total of 97 bald eagles.

Board CdA boats to view bald eagles

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A scenic boat cruise is one of the more enjoyable ways to view the annual winter bald eagle gathering at Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay.

Here are a few options;

Dec. 26-Jan. 2: Coeur d’Alene Resort 2-hour cruises start at 1 p.m. Cost: Adults $20, over 55 $18, kids $12, under 6 free.

Sign-up: (800) 688-5253

Jan. 1: Spokane Parks and Recreation van trip and 2-hour cruise for adults. Participants meet at Corbin Center, 827 W. Cleveland, at 11:30 a.m. and return after a no-host meal at 5 p.m. Cost, including guide and transportation, $38.

Sign-up: 625-6200 or online.

Eagle gathering grows at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE — At least four 65 bald eagles are gathered in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d’Alene for their annual feast of spawning kokanee. 

BLM wildlife biologist Carie Hugo counted 39 adults and 25 immature eagles on Friday.

“I know I missed some of the adult birds during my count,” Hugo said.  “The adults, with their bright white heads, blend in easily with snow covered tree branches!  But the immature birds are all brown and stand out more against the snowy white trees.” 

Last year at this time Hugo counted only six eagles, and in 2008 only 35 were counted.  With early numbers like this, there should be ample opportunities to spot eagles during this
holiday season.

For easy access to viewing sites, drive east of Coeur d’Alene on I-90 and take the Wolf Lodge Exit.  Start looking as you ease around the bay.

Bald eagles gathering at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual gathering of bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d’Alene is underway.  S-R staffers saw four at Higgens Point as they drove by on I-90 today.   Dozens more probably went unnoticed.  The numbers will build, usually peaking in mid December.  The eagles come to feed on spawning kokanee. 

Second bald eagle found shot to death

 A bald eagle was found shot to death in Riverside State Park last week - the second killed locally this month.

The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for tips that lead to the killer’s conviction. Apark ranger found the bird on South Bank Road.

The Humane Society already is offering a reward for tips that help convict the person who shot a bald eagle the weekend of March 6. That bird was found on the south bank of Long Lake off Long Lake Road.

Bald eagles are federally protected birds. Killing them is a federal crime that carries up to a year in prison and fines up to $100,000.

The Humane Society is offering the reward with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust.

Anyone with information is asked to call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at (509) 928-6050.

(The Associated Press photo at the right shows a bald eagle at Frentress Lake in the backwaters of the Mississippi River.)