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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.)

Bald eagle shot to death near Long Lake

 A bald eagle was shot to death near Long Lake last weekend, and 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.

The bird was found on the south bank of the Long Lake off Long Lake Road the weekend of March 6. 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.

In a prepared statement, Dan Paul, state director of the Humane Society, called the poaching “an affront to wildlife and the laws that protect these animals.”

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.

According to the Humane Society:

- Wildlife officials estimate that for every wild animal killed legally — tens of millions of animals per year — another is killed illegally.

- Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poachers are caught.

Eagle Watchers Could Get Ticketed

Idaho State Police are cautioning eagle watchers at Lake Coeur d’Alene not to stop in the middle of the roadway on state Highway 97, or they risk getting a ticket.

Some motorists have been stopping in the travel lanes along the two-lane highway that runs from Wolf Lodge Bay down the east side of the lake to Harrison. It creates a safety hazard for other motorists.

As a result, police have increased patrols in the area and are writing tickets for the violations. Highway 97 has a limited number of pull offs for stopping. Read More.

Really? People stop in the middle of the highway to watch eagles? Gosh, please use some common sense out there.

What would you stop in the middle of a highway to gawk at?