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Pheasants chicks available for raising, releasing

WILDLIFE – The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council will be distributing pheasant chicks to people who have facilities to raise 25 or more birds for around six weeks before releasing them into the wild.

 The council provides the day-old birds in lots of 25 and charges a fee to cover costs: 

  • 40 cents a hen
  • $2.25 for roosters
  • $1.50 for half roosters, half hens.

Starter feed is available, 50 pounds for $20.

The first shipment of chicks from Little Canyon Shooting Preserve in Peck, Idaho, will be April 29 and continue every Tuesday until late June, said program coordinator Larry Carey.

They will be available for pickup at the council office, 6116 N. Market.

Chicks must be reserved in advance: 328-6429. 

Bird thought it was flying into dust storm: Boink!

WILDLIFE WATCHING — This natural bird art is the best reason I've seen for putting off window washing.

Former S-R editor Phil Gruis posted the extraordinary photo, noting that the bird wasn't around so it apparently survived the impact.

An artist at work.

Live raptors featured in Audubon program Tuesday

WILDLIFE – Raptor expert Kate Davis of Montana-based Raptors of the Rockies, will present a free program on hawks and owls at the Coeur d’Alene Audubon meeting, 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 8, at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.

Davis says she’ll be bringing a few of the 15 species of orphaned or injured raptors that serve as the educational team at her raptor ranch in the Bitterroot Valley.

Photo: Owls blend into the woodwork

WILDLIFE WATCHING — You say you've never seen a Western screech owl in the wild?

No wonder, says Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Pend Oreille Valley Tundra Swan Festival booking tour seats

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  The 2014 Tundra Swan Festival is set for March 22 in the Pend Oreille River Valley and the main attraction is already flocking in.

Bus tours hosted by the Kalispell Tribe are planned to Calispell Lake to view some of the thousands of swans resting in the area’s open waters as their spring migration kicks into high gear.

Participants will re-gather at the Camas Wellness Center in Usk for lunch and a presentation on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by Forest Service District Ranger Gayne Sears.

Cost: $10 or $5 for kids under 13.

Sign up by Friday, March 14. Info: 509 447 5286

Shape your birding knowledge with this chart

WILDLIFE WATCHING — This chart, courtesy of the Spokane Audubon Society's monthly newsletter, helps you put your birding knowledge into perspective.

How to deal with a wild turkey attack

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A hospital medical staff had a hoot overlooking this UPS driver's recent ordeal with a menacing wild turkey tom in Minnesota. 

Note to self: When sending important packages to turkey country, go with Fed-Ex.

Dead hawk owl to live on in WSU collection

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The northern hawk owl that thrilled hundreds of birders as it ranged south to hang out around Moscow this winter was killed in a vehicle collision Thursday but will live on as an exhibit at Washington State University.  

Judging from the emails, the first bird of its species known to have visited the Palouse made a personal impact on people who enjoyed its willingness to be observed and photographed for six weeks around town.

Here's the report from Terry Gray, the Moscow birder who monitored the hawk owl and made daily reports on its whereabouts to visiting birders. Gray ultimately took the mortally injured bird to university veterinarians who tried to save it.

 The Northern Hawk Owl turned out to be a male.  The bird is now at the
Washington State University Charles R. Conner Museum and will join two more
Northern Hawk Owls in their collection.
 
I want to thank everyone for you kind thoughts and words.  I really
appreciate them and feel honored to have kept all in the loop on what was
happening with our feathered friend.   I had a tough experience today when a
couple knocked on my door from New Mexico asking for directions to see the
owl and I had to tell them that they were a day late!

Bald eagles drifting away from Lake CdA gathering

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The number of bald eagles is thinning out at Lake Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay area where the national symbols gather each year to feast on spawning kokanee.

After peaking at 217 two weeks ago, the number of eagles counted today by U.S. Bureau of Land Management biologist Carrie Hugo dropped to 53 — that's  51 adults and 2 juveniles.  

The eagles came later than normal this year and stayed in large numbers longer than in the past, perhaps because many of them had been taking advantage of the revived kokanee fishery in Lake Pend Oreille.  

  • See more on the Pend Oreille and Coeur d'Alene eagle gatherings.

“Chances are the number of eagles (at Lake Coeur d'Alene) is slightly higher than my count reflects today,” Hugo said, noting that she spotted at least 20 soaring eagles but does not include flying birds in her surveys. 

“Having said that, the numbers should continue to decline rapidly from here,” she said, adding that no more surveys would be conducted until the birds should begin returning again in November.

 “It was another good year with a few surprises in the numbers!  We might have to find someone to monitor Lake Pend Oreille next year!”  

SHARE YOUR EAGLE PHOTOS

The Spokesman-Review has set up a web page where readers can upload some of the great images they're snapping of eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Check it out, especially Tim Colquhoun's map of the best eagle viewing areas at the northeast end of the lake.

Poor visibility postpones CdA eagle survey

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The weekly survey of bald eagles gathering at Lake Coeur d'Alene was postponed today because of poor visibility caused by the incoming storm.

Carrie Hugo, BLM wildlife biologists, said she saw enough eagles to believe that the eagle numbers are still high.  In last week's survey she counted 217.

She said she'll try again on Wednesday to do the survey.

But  Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson hit it right on Monday, coming before the storm and finding plenty of action for good, sharp photos, as you can see above.

Video: See birder bag Big Year record, 750 species

WILDLIFE WATCHING — 2013 wasn't just a big year, it was the biggest year in the community of hard-corder birders.

The video (above) features Neil Hayward on Dec. 28, 2013, as he entered the birding record books by identifying his 750th bird of the year. The video captures the contagious excitement as Hayward puts his camera to the trophy species, a great skua, off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Although birding at this level is hard-core, life-consuming and VERY expensive, USA Today reports that about 85 million Americans enjoy observing, photographing or feeding wild birds.

Birding ranks 15th on a list of the most popular outdoor activities, just below bicycling and beach bumming, according to the most recent National Survey on Recreation and the Environment by the USDA's Forest Service.

About 18 million are serious enough to take trips exclusively to commune with other birders or count birds by sight or sound, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

Some designate Big Days — Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Team Sapsucker set a continental record of identifying 294 on April 25 — or Biggest Weeks, and a few die-hard birders embark on what they call Big Years, competitions to spot as many species as they can within a certain territory.

Members of the Spokane Audubon Society and Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society have been pooling their sightings to log their Big Year efforts.

 

Rare visitor looks like owl, eats like hawk

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The hawk owl that's been luring birders to the Moscow, Idaho, area for more than a month continues to deliver for photographers eager to document a rare visitor to the region.

Spokane-area birder Ron Dexter offered this recent photo with interesting details from his observation of the northern Canada bird's hunting behavior:

It was hunting from a powerline on the north side of White Ave. A small creek runs along that side of the road. The banks are covered with weeds and grass and provide raptors a hunting ground for mice and voles.
 
The first two attacks from the owl came up empty except for claws full of weeds. Finally, it sprang from the power line and dove into the grass along the road only 20 feet from me and grabbed a vole. Then it flew into a nearby tree. It would pin the rodent to a tree limb and chomp at it with its beak, then pick it up and fly to another tree where it ate it. It did not swallow the meal whole like most owls do, but ripped off pieces. Hawk Owls hunt in the daytime and eat like hawks, thus the name.

Soaring eagle numbers a mystery at Lake Coeur d’Alene

UPDATED  10:35 a.m. 1-2-14

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Just when it seemed the annual winter bald eagle count was going to stall at Lake Coeur d'Alene, the number soared to 217 eagles on Monday. 

Carrie Hugo, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, can't officially peg the exact reason the eagles came so much later than usual for their feast of spawning kokanee in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of the lake.  From mid-November through mid-December, about half the number of eagles had shown up compared with counts in recent years.

At the end of December, the eagle gathering usually starts to thin out as the spawn subsides and ice covers more water. This season, the numbers increased and the biggest gathering of eagles of the year is at the lake this week. 

The numbers are up from Hugo's last count on Dec. 18, when she found 129 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area. That was up from 86 eagles the week before that, according to Hugo's weekly count.

Of the 217 eagles counted Monday, 196 were adults and 21, juveniles, Hugo said, theorizing that many of the eagles were short-stopped from reaching Lake CdA by the revived kokanee spawning in Granite Creek at Lake Pend Oreille. Bayview residents, who view the Granite Creek area by boat, say the number of bald eagles there may be 10 times higher than last year. 

However, by New Year's Day, the larger number of eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene wasn't apparent to Spokane photographer Craig Goodwin:

  • The increased count was a real mystery to the photographers who were out there yesterday. Based on our observations the numbers were the same or lower than they were two weeks ago. I was out there last year with 200+ birds and there were no where near that many yesterday. In my opinion the numbers aren't soaring nearly as much as the count indicates.

For decades, the eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.
Despite the recent increase, eagle numbers are down from the past few years. The Dec. 18 count of 129 compared with 260 during the same time period last year.

SHARE YOUR EAGLE PHOTOS

The Spokesman-Review has set up a web page where readers can upload some of the great images they're snapping of eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Check it out, especially Tim Colquhoun's map of the best eagle viewing areas at the northeast end of the lake.

Eagle’s comeback testament to Endangered Species Act

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  As wildlife lovers and their families flock to Lake Coeur d'Alene Eagle Watch activities to view congregating bald eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay this week, let's not forget that very few if any bald eagles would be gracing our Inland Northwest skies if it weren't for the foresight of the lawmakers who passed Endangered Species Act in 1973.

Bald eagles, grizzlies living reminders of federal law's success
President Richard Nixon signed the federal Endangered Species Act into law on Dec. 28, 1973, and in Montana, bald eagles and grizzly bears have rebounded because of the law's protections.

—Missoulian

Migrations Part 3: Birds can’t fly away from habitat issues

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Yesterday, in the Idaho Fish and Game Department's 75th anniversary series of “reminders” on wildlife topics, I featured the second of a three-part post on migrations — Part 2: Fish.  The first installment was on Tuesday, Part 1: Roadkill and how the carnage along highways pegs critter movements.

Today, we look at Part 3: Birds.

Intro

Mammals do it. Birds and fish do it. Even insects do it.

They migrate as part of their inborn strategy for survival, and the arrival of winter triggers a massive migration of all kinds of wildlife.

They may travel a thousand miles or a few feet. The distance is not what defines migration; it’s that animals move between habitats during the year to survive. They may move for many reasons – to find food, breed or raise their young. Migration is a tool they use when a habitat no longer meets their needs.

Migration patterns and routes are ancient and have been influenced by the natural features of the land, water and air. The same natural features that foster wildlife movement are also attractive to human activities. Roads bisect open spaces. Wind turbines pop up on ridgelines. Dams block rivers. Communication towers light up the night sky. Houses are built in key habitat. And human structures frequently become problems for migrating wildlife.

Birds

All types of birds migrate. Some travel huge distances and while others simply move up and down a mountainside.

In Idaho, we often associate migration with waterfowl. They migrate by the thousands and noisily announce their coming and goings. Idaho is part of the migratory route called the Pacific Flyway.

Structures, such as power lines, wind farms and offshore oil-rigs, have been known to affect migratory birds. Habitat destruction by land use changes is the biggest threat, and shallow wetlands that are stopover and wintering sites for migratory birds are particularly threatened by draining and reclamation for human use.

Eagle count soars to 129 at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual bald eagle gathering at Lake Coeur d'Alene continues to grow, with plenty of birds for viewing as “eagle ambassadors” gear up for the annual Eagle Watch Week activities during the holiday school break.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 129 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.  That's up from 86 eagles counted last week and up from 57 eagles counted two weeks ago during her weekly survey.

For decades, the eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

Eagle numbers are down from the past few years. Today's count of 129 eagles compares with 260 during the same week last year, Hugo said.

“At any rate, they are increasing and I saw floating kokanee and a good amount of fishing so there is still plenty of high quality viewing out there,” she said “At one point there were 17 eagles soaring between Wolf Point and Higgens Point.”

EAGLE WATCH WEEK

The annual Eagle Watch Week, Dec. 26-30, is a good time to bring the family out for eagle viewing to take advantage of display and spotting scopes set up by people who know a lot about eagles.

The activity is based at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Mineral Ridge boat launch and trailhead on SR 97 south of I-90 from the Wolf Lodge Exit. 

Beginning Dec. 26, the BLM will partner with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and other “eagle ambassadors” to answer questions about bald eagles, their lifestyles and habits and assist visitors with high-powered spotting scopes.

In case of severe weather, check the “Eagle Watch Hotline” —(208) 769-5048 after 9 a.m., Dec. 26-30 — to be sure activities have not been curtailed.

SHARE YOUR EAGLE PHOTOS

The Spokesman-Review has set up a web page where readers can upload some of the great images they're snapping of eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Check it out, especially Tim Colquhoun's map of the best eagle viewing areas at the northeast end of the lake.

It’s a steal! Just $10 for 2014 calendar featuring local birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Talk about local. This annual calendar features images of local birds captured by local birder-photographers. 

More eagles at Lake CdA, plus other places to find them

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The number of bald eagles is increasing at their traditional winter feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 86 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.  That's up from 57 eagles counted during her weekly survey last Tuesday.

“This time last year I counted 203 eagles,” Hugo said. “Today there were 23 in Beauty Bay and a handful that were nice and visible between Boothe Park and Higgens Point.” 

The eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

The Spokesman Review has set up a web page where readers can upload some of the great images they're snapping of eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Check it out, especially Tim Colquhoun's map of the best eagle viewing areas at the northeast end of the lake.

Read on for a story about eagle-watching areas in Western Washington.   And to expand your horizons even more, realize that the author didn't mention the good chances of seeing bald eagles along the Clearwater River near Orofino or the Methow River between Carlton and Winthrop or the Clark Fork River near St. Regis or all along Lake Roosevelt and even the lower Spokane River — all likely winter spots to see bald eagles, one of the classic success stories of the Endangered Species Act.

Warm up your bird ID before Christmas Bird Count

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Can you ID these two birds?  If not, you may want to attend one of the Audubon Society programs tonight and Wednesday on identifying wintering birds.

  • Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife experts say both birds are male finches and despite the difference in photo size here, they are about the same size in real life.
     
    The one on the left is a house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) and the one on the right is a Cassin’s finch (Carpodacus cassinii).
     
    Cassin’s bright red cap ends sharply at brown-streaked nape and its tail is strongly notched. House finch’s red is more on the front of its head under a brown cap, and the red color can vary to orange or even yellow; house finch also has a more square tail.

10 things learned from Christmas Bird Count data

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Local Audubon Society chapters have tapped professional biologists to present special pre-Christmas Bird Count programs on identifying and understanding “winter birds:”

Whether you're gearing up for joining a group outing during the Audubon Society's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count or simply brushing up on your bird identification skills, check out one of these free programs:

Coeur d’Alene Audubon will feature Carrie Hugo, BLM wildlife biologist, on Tuesday (Dec. 10), 7 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.

Spokane Audubon will feature Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College biology professor on Wednesday (Dec. 11), 7 p.m., at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. Driving directions: tinyurl.com/SASmeeting.

The Christmas Bird Count has provided an abundance of data to scientists and researchers. According to the Spokane Auduabon Society, some of the conclusions drawn or supported from the study of CBC data include:
  1. Birds are not climate skeptics, having spoken with their wings. (Many North American species’ winter ranges have moved northward and inland.)
  2. The Bald Eagle is back; the Endangered Species Act works.
  3. Many of America's most familiar and beloved birds are in serious decline, including Evening Grosbeak, Field and Grasshopper Sparrows, Snow Buntings and Ruffed Grouse.
  4. Eurasian Collared-Doves have invaded the US.
  5. Peregrine Falcons are reclaiming territory they had disappeared from in the 1950s-60s.
  6. Sage-grouse are in deep trouble.
  7. More and more hummingbirds are staying in the USA and Canada for winter.
  8. “Eastern” House Finches having been moving west for 60 years.
  9. How fast and how far West Nile virus has spread.
  10. Birds are early indicators of environmental problems that can affect people (see #1).

Audubon Society invites newbies to programs on winter birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Excellent programs on winter birding are planned next week, a spinoff in the birding social event of the year.

Local Audubon Society chapters have tapped professional biologists to present special pre-Christmas Bird Count programs on identifying and understanding “winter birds:”

Whether you're gearing up for joining a group outing during the Audubon Society's 114th annual Christmas Bird Count or simply brushing up on your bird identification skills, check out one of these free programs:

Coeur d’Alene Audubon will feature Carrie Hugo, BLM wildlife biologist, on Tuesday (Dec. 10), 7 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd. in Coeur d’Alene.

Spokane Audubon will feature Gary Blevins, Spokane Falls Community College biology professor on Wednesday (Dec. 11), 7 p.m., at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. Driving directions: tinyurl.com/SASmeeting.

The Audubon Chapters also welcome newcomers on the Christmas Bird Count field trips they've organized.  Following are the dates and the leader contacts:

NORTH IDAHO

Coeur d’Alene: Dec. 14; Shirley Sturts, (208) 664-5318, shirley.sturts@gmail.com.

Moscow: Dec. 14; Kas Dumroese, kas.birder@gmail.com.

Lewiston: Dec. 15; contact Bryan Jamieson, jami9197@aol.com.

Sandpoint: Dec. 14; Rich Del Carlo, (208) 265-8989, rich@peregrinetree.com.

Bonners Ferry: Dec. 28; Jan Rose (208) 267-7791, aljanrose@hotmail.com.

Spirit Lake: Jan. 2; Shirley Sturts.

Indian Mountain: Jan. 5; Don Heikkila, (208) 659-3389, idfinn@sm-email.com.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

Pullman: Dec. 14; Marie Dymkoski, marie-dymkoski@msn.com.

Colville: Dec. 14; Barbara Harding, (509) 684-8384, Barbara_Harding@fws.gov.

Pend Oreille River: Dec. 15; John Stuart, (509) 447-2644, ninebark@povn.com.

Clarkston: Dec. 15; Bryan Jamieson, jami9197@aol.com.

Chewelah: Dec. 21; Mike Munts (509) 684-8384, strix.nebulosa1987@gmail.com.

Spokane: Dec. 29; Alan McCoy, 448-3123, ahm2352@gmail.com. 

Northern hawk owl lures local birders to Moscow area

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The online alerts have been buzzing this week with news of a northern hawk owl hanging out out around Moscow — a rare sighting that's attracting life-listing birdwatchers from around the region.

The hawk owl was still there this morning, according to this post from Kirsten Dahl.

The Northern Hawk-Owl is still present as of 7:30 am this morning.  It is perched on top of a bush just east of the Hwy 8/Blaine intersection, along the bike trail.

The photo above is by Moscow birder Terry Gray. Here's a story about the occasion by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

MOSCOW - When Lori Nelson heard about the northern hawk owl, she quickly devised a plan.

She dropped her son off at school Wednesday morning in Richland and headed east to the Palouse. By noon, she was standing under a tree near the Eastside Marketplace and admiring the rare bird that normally stays well north of the U.S.-Canada border.

“He has feathered feet, that is so cool,” she said. “It’s (a) once-in-a-lifetime bird for me. I may not get a chance to see one again.”

Many avid bird-watchers keep lists of all the species they have spotted. When a rare bird is found, they spread the word so others can not only enjoy it but also add to their lists.

The rare visitor was first spotted Tuesday morning and positively identified as a hawk owl that afternoon by Terry Gray of Moscow. He filled out a rare bird report and news of it quickly made the rounds via email listserves and websites like ebird.org. Local birders from Moscow, Pullman, Lewiston soon showed up to take a look and perhaps add a bird to their life lists.

“It’s kind of cool. It’s amazing how fast word gets out there through the different listserves and ebird on rare bird sightings,” said Gray. “It’s kind of fun.”

Later in the day, people from farther away started to show up. Gray said he met a carload of women from Boise who headed north as soon as they got word.

Keith Carlson of Lewiston was one of the early arrivals and said the bird didn’t disappoint.

“He’s a real piece of work,” he said. “He just sits there and he’s an experienced hunter. I saw him try to, and to catch, two mice this morning. He just sits in one or two trees and watches. All of a sudden he launches off and boom, he catches one and flies back up and eats it.”

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, northern hawk owls prefer coniferous or mixed forests near open areas. They live year-round in Canada and Alaska. When food is scare during tough winters, the birds sometimes move south in large numbers, known as an irruption. Gray said there is no evidence this bird is associated with an irruption.

CdA bald eagle count booms from 11 to 57 in a week

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are finally showing some interest in their traditional winter feast of spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted only 57 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.  That's up from two eagles counted during her weekly survey two weeks ago and up from 11 counted last week.

However, the 57 eagles counted today — 46 adults (white heads), 10 immatures (under 4 years old) and one unknown — amount to less than half of the eagles counted in Wolf Lodge Bay last year at this time, Hugo said.

The eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

“Last year I counted 121 bald eagles — 84 adults and 37 immature,” Hugo said, noting that today's survey conditions were cold and windy and many eagles were soaring in the breeze. “Let's see if the cold snap this week freezes some lakes up north and sends a big pulse (of eagles) our way!”

Audubon selling 2014 Birds of Eastern Washington calendar

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Steller’s jay photographed in the foothills of Mount Spokane by Ron Dexter is one of 12 birds featured in the Spokane Audubon Society’s 2014 Birds of Eastern Washington Calendar.   

The calendars are a bargain at $10.

Order them at the club's online store.

Bald eagle numbers far short of last year’s Lake CdA gathering, so far

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagles are way short of their historical mark for showing up to feed on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted only 11 adult bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area today.  That's up from two eagles counted during her weekly survey last week, but down from 100 eagles counted during this week last year.

The eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

Birders and biologists have been scratching their heads, wondering if the revival of kokanee at Lake Pend Oreille is detouring eagles that normally would be flocking to Lake CdA by now?

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?

Could CdA eagles be detoured by super-sized meal?

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?

 

How fast can peregrine falcons dive? See for yourself

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Peregrine falcons have long been considered the fastest bird on the planet. But now we're getting firm numbers.

Using high-tech sensors, scientists are ending the conjecture on how fast these sleek falcons can stoop on their hapless prey.

What's your guess?

Watch this remarkable video to the very end. You'll be surprised!

Bald eagles still not showing up at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual gathering of bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene is lagging.

The eagles provide a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

However, Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted only two adult bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area on Tuesday, down from three eagles she counted last Tuesday during the first of the weekly bald eagle surveys she'll do this season.

“Last year on Nov. 20 there were 64 eagles in all,” she said this afternoon.  The number built to 260 bald eagles counted on Dec.19, 2012.  

“I spoke with Jim Fredericks from Idaho Fish and Game about the kokanee spawn outlook,” Hugo said.  “Fredericks said that estimates for numbers of adults are lower than last year but still within the realm of the norm for what they hope and expect to see in Lake CdA.  Also he mentioned that spawning is going to be pretty goon on Lake Pend Oreille and that he noticed quite a few eagles up there.”

She said there's some speculation that bald eagles may be camping out in the Lake Pend Oreille area.  On the other hand, there were quite a few eagles at Pend Oreille's Granite Creek spawning area last year at this time and plenty of eagles still showed up at Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Experts list 10 top gift ideas for birders

WILDLIFE WATCHING — From new birdsong collections to smartphone apps, online learning, and a kit for beginning birders, here are 10 holiday gift suggestions for the bird and nature lover in your life. All these items are available from the nonprofit Cornell Lab of Ornithology at www.birds.cornell.edu/BirdGifts.  (Purchases from this site support the Cornell Lab's bird conservation efforts.)

1. Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: Master Set for North America

The most comprehensive guide available, featuring nearly 5,000 soundtracks for 735 North American bird species. Download includes MP3 sound files and photographs ($49.99), or receive all files on a pre-loaded USB flash drive. ($64.99)

2. Cornell Guide to Bird Sounds: Essential Set for North America
Great for beginners. This set includes the most common sounds for 737 species available as downloadable MP3 files ($12.99) or on a pre-loaded USB flash drive. ($24.99)

3. The Bird Watching Answer Book
A great stocking stuffer! Drawing from the tens of thousands of inquiries that pour into the Cornell Lab each year, author and bird expert Laura Erickson has compiled answers to more than 200 common and not-so-common bird questions. ($14.95)

4. Cornell Lab Beginner Bird-Watching Kit
This kit, available from Optics Planet, includes introductory binoculars recommended by Cornell Lab of Ornithology staff, six months free access to a Cornell online bird ID course, and other great accessories. ($199)

5. Bird Apps
Find more birds with BirdsEye, upload sightings from the field with BirdLog, or discover 24 North American birds in four games for kids with My Bird World ($3.99-$19.99).

6. Birds & Beans Coffee
A tasteful gift that supports organic shade-grown coffee farms that give shelter and sustenance to more than 60 species of migratory birds. A portion of the proceeds supports Cornell Lab conservation efforts. ($11.70 & up)

7. The Birds of North America Online
This continually updated, definitive life-history reference is authored by experts on more than 700 bird species, accompanied by images, sounds, and some video. An online publication of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with the American Ornithologists' Union. ($5 stocking stuffer for a 30-day subscription or $42 for an entire year)

8. The Warbler Guide with Song and Call Companion
This set of sound contains all the vocalizations described in The Warbler Guide, by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. More than 1,000 files are presented in the same order as they occur in the text. ($5.99)

9. Cornell Lab Membership
Lab membership supports efforts to improve the understanding and protection of birds around the world. The quarterly Living Bird magazine is included with every gift membership. ($39)

10. Singing Plush Birds
The plush birds in this popular Wild Republic series make great collectibles for children and adults. Each bird contains authentic sounds from the Cornell Lab's Macaulay Library and is created with colorful anatomical details. ($8.99)

Three bald eagles lead annual feeding fest at Lake Coeur d’Alene

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual fall-winter congregation of bald eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene appears to have started, barely.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted three adult bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area on Tuesday during the first of the weekly bald eagle surveys she'll do this season.

The eagles provide a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured to the northeast corner of the lake from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in the bay.

“There was no count this early last year because I was not here to count so I have no comparison,” Hugo said, but she added that the eagle numbers can build rapidly. “The count on Nov. 20, 2012, was 64.”

Most viewers drive to viewpoints at Higgens Point or from the Wolf Lodge Exit from Interstate 90.
However, eagle-watching cruise boat tours are scheduled in November and December leaving from the Coeur d'Alene Resort

Local veterans, active military and families from the North Idaho area will be honored on two admission-free cruises will be offered on Nov. 30 to local veterans, active military and their immediate families from the North Idaho area. The first two-hour cruise to the east end of Lake Coeur d'Alene will depart at 10 a.m. and the second two-hour cruise will leave at 1 p.m.

Reservations are required. Please call Suzanne Endsley at (208) 769-5004 during the business hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to make a reservation.

Because the cruises fill quickly, the current status of available seating will be posted on the BLM's Coeur d'Alene District website.