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‘Family Birding’ class offered in Sandpoint on Saturday

WILDLIFE WATCHING —It’s not too late to sign up for North Idaho College at Sandpoint’s “Family Birding Outing” class taught by ornithologist and author Brian Baxter on Saturday, May 2.

The class, which starts at 9 a.m. at the NIC at Sandpoint parking lot, involves a road tour and short hike with instruction on spotting birds of prey, waterfowl, swans, ducks, eagles, hawks, herons, woodpeckers and shorebirds.

Baxter will offer tips on habitat, nesting birds, mating behavior, and predator/prey relationships along with a visit to two of the top birding sites in North Idaho. 

Come prepared for a fun day of birding with lunch, binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras.

Baxter has degrees in both forestry and wildlife biology, and has been teaching outdoor education programs for more than 20 years.

To register, contact the NI C Workforce Training Center at (208) 769-3333 or request more information at workforcetraining@nic.edu or visit www.nic.edu/wtc.

Join the crowd to count backyard birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birders are signing up to contribute 15 minutes of their favorite hobby to science.

The Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb.13-16, involves birders of all levels of experience to count the number of birds they see in a 15-minute period and enter their tally, by species,online.

Participants can conduct their count in their own backyards, in a neighborhood park or anywhere they choose.

Check it out. 

BTW, kids can really get into this. Grab a field guide to birds or Google what you see and feed the brain for natural science.

Eagles still lingering at Wolf Lodge Bay

WILDLIFE WATCHING —Bald eagles at Lake Coeur d’Alene for their annual gathering to feed on spawning kokanee are dispersing, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist says.

Carrie Hugo, who has surveyed eagles in Wolf Lodge Bay almost weekly since early November, counted 28 eagles Friday – 27 adults and one juvenile.

The peak count this winter was 140 on Dec. 23.

A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.

Winter tips for feeding birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Feeding wild birds is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the U.S. While a handout can help birds find the calories needed to survive the winter, improper feeding can spread disease or increase birds' exposure to predators.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages bird enthusiasts to keep a few things in mind to help assure successful bird feeding.

"The location of your feeder and what food it offers is very important for attracting birds," said Deniz Aygen, IDFG wildlife program coordinator. "To attract a variety of birds, many bird watchers use a variety of feeders and foods in several different locations."

Additional suggestions for successful bird feeding include:

  • Place feeders near cover to protect feeding birds from weather and predators. Move feeders if you notice birds striking windows.
  • Birds can be particular about what and where they eat. Sparrows, juncos and doves typically feed on the ground or on a flat platform, while other birds prefer an elevated feeder. Some ground-feeding birds prefer corn, milo or millet, but sunflower seeds are also a popular food. Adding finch or thistle seed can attract pine siskins, goldfinches and house finches. Insect-eating birds, such as woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches feed on suet or peanut butter mixtures.
  • If possible, provide water nearby. Specially designed heaters are available to prevent freezing. Once water and food are offered, try to continue through the winter, but don't be concerned if you miss a few days, since feeding birds are mobile and are probably visiting other feeding stations besides yours.
  • Keep feeders and feeding areas clean. Clean feeders regularly by scrubbing with soapy water, followed by a quick rinse in water diluted with a small amount of bleach. Store seed in tight, waterproof containers to prevent mold and to deter rodents.

Bald eagles still hanging out at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  Today's weekly winter survey of Lake Coeur d'Alene bald eagles — possibly the last of the season — tallied 93  eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay feasting on spawning kokanee.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist Carrie Hugo counted  87 adults, 5 immature, 1 unknown.  That's plenty of birds for good viewing and photography.

The landslide that blocked SR 97 yesterday was quickly cleared.


ISP boots eagle watchers off SR97 along Lake CdA

UPDATED 9:35 a.m. with further response from ISP

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Bald eagle numbers continue to increase at Lake Coeur d’Alene in time for the annual Eagle Watch event Dec. 27-31.

However, an Idaho State Police trooper gave the boot to some eagle viewers and photographers parked in turnouts along State Route 97 on Monday.

Parking along the highway has occasionally presented a hazard, said Lt. Chris Schenck, ISP spokesman in Coeur d’Alene.

"We're still going to allow people to park there, but they must be off the highway and cannot cause a traffic hazard," he said. "Safety is our concern. We've had some near misses there in the past."

The eagles congregate in the Wolf Lodge Bay area from November into January to prey on spawning kokanee. Families and photographers from around the country flock to the area to see eagles perched in trees and swooping down to snatch the land-locked sockeye salmon from the water.

During the peak of the eagle gathering between Christmas and New Year, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Fish and Game sponsor an the Eagle Watch event based out of designated parking areas at the Mineral Ridge boat launch and the Mineral Ridge trailhead.

The areas will be staffed by eagle “ambassadors” to answer questions about bald eagles, explain their lifestyles and habits and assist visitors with high-powered spotting scopes for five days, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., starting Saturday, Dec. 27.

Eagle watching occurs at several areas, from boats and at Higgens Point accessible from Coeur d'Alene.

Most eagle viewers traditionally have driven 8 miles on Interstate 90 east of Coeur d’Alene to take the Wolf Lodge Exit toward Harrison. Several SR 97 turnouts along the lake are frequently used by photographers en route to the Mineral Ridge area.

 But on Monday, some of them were evicted from roadside turnouts.

“An Idaho State Police officer showed up at Wolf Lodge Bay this morning and demanded that all the photographers move their cars from the turnouts along the water’s edge on the south side of the lake,” Matt Shelley said Monday. “People regularly use these turnouts to park, avoiding the mile-long walk from a parking area about one mile farther south.  

“Apparently a number of the locals, some of whom are out virtually every day, were parked well beyond the white fog line (marking the edge of the highway). They objected to the officer’s order and were told they could move their cars or they would be cited or go to jail.  

“Everyone left, including the ISP officer, but, of course, a new batch of eagle watchers who had not received the edict came along and once again filled the turnouts.”

"We had complaints of people in the roadway," Lt. Schenck said. A few cars were illegally parked, so the officers chose to clear out everyone, he said.

People cannot be posing a hazard to traffic as they park or walk along the road, he said.

BLM officials regularly warn eagle watchers to stay off SR 97. Apparently the thrill of watching the eagles makes them forget they’re on a state highway, they say.

“Each year hundreds of viewers travel to the Mineral Ridge area to take in the eagles, so the BLM would like to remind travelers to be extra cautious when driving, parking or walking along State Highway 97,” said Suzanne Endsley, BLM spokeswoman in Coeur d’Alene. “The travel way is not restricted, and pedestrians should be respectful of drivers by not walking in the center of the road or using the shoulder to scout for eagles,” she said in the media release for Eagle Watch week.

 “People were not sure why this has suddenly become an issue,” Shelley said. “That long walk from the parking area is a fairly tall order given the heavy tripods, 600mm lenses and other equipment needed to get good shots of the eagles.”

 “But in this case the officer said no parking at all was allowed in the turnouts.”

Spokane Valley photographer Craig Goodwin said he talked to some of the photographers that had been evicted.

"No cars were over the white line," he said. "Things apparently got pretty heated with threats of arrest because of the pushback from the photographers. The closure forced many more people to walk the shoulderless road. Probably not the best day in policing history."

 Said Shelley, “People watching the eagles must park in the turnouts, not in the road, which I don't believe anyone would argue with. But the officer touched a nerve with the local eagle watchers, understandably, by effectively closing the turnouts to parking.”

CdA bald eagle count nearly doubles in a week

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The number of bald eagles has nearly doubled since last week for their annual gathering to feast on kokanee spawning in the northeastern corner of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 66 bald eagles Tuesday — 58 adults and 8 immature — in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.  That's up from 34 eagles counted last Wednesday during her weekly survey. Two weeks ago she counted 18.

Bald eagles traditionally show up from early November into January for a winter feast of spawning kokanee.

This year, the gathering has been slower to grow.  On Dec. 16, 2013, Hugo counted 129 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area. The 2013 bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene peaked at 217 on Dec. 30.

Jim Fredericks, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager, said efforts to improve kokanee numbers and spawning in Lake Pend Oreille has attracted dozens of bald eagles, which avoided the lake 15 years ago when the kokanee population was nearly a bust. Granite Creek attracted swarms of spawners to the Bayview area.

"Spawning gravel was layered onto the lake bottom this year in Idlewilde Bay near the Farragut boat ramp and the kokanee found it in a big way," said Andy Dux, Pend Oreille Lake fisheries project leader. "The shoreline is littered with thousands of kokanee carcasses."

But more and more eagles are finding their way, per tradition, to Lake CdA, where the kokanee population continues to be healthy, Fredericks said.

Plenty of birds are showing up for good photo ops.

Craig Goodwin, pastor of Millwood Community Presbyterian Church and outdoor photographer, proves that with the photo above.

Stay tuned for what's likely to be a lot more eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay during the peak period that's coming up.


Idaho trophy species rule proposals revealed

HUNTING — An increase in Idaho Panhandle moose hunting opportunity and other proposals for next year's trophy big-game seasons will be presented at an open house meeting, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 18 at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Panhandle Region Office, 2885 W. Kathleen Ave. in Coeur d’Alene.

Meetings are being held on statewide proposals affecting hunting for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. However, no changes are proposed for mountain goat or bighorn sheep hunting in the Panhandle.

The open house format allows visitors to attend at any time during the session to visit with Fish and Game personnel about the proposals.

The Panhandle Region proposal includes the addition of 20 bull moose tags:

Unit 4 would have a long season (Sept. 15-Dec. 1) with an increase from 15 tags to 20 tags.  "Harvest success rates have been high in Unit 4 and the average number of days of hunting to harvest a moose in the unit is decreasing," said Phil Cooper, department spokesman. "There has not been a decrease in antler spread of harvested bulls, and this proposal would increase hunter opportunity."

Two new short season hunts are proposed for Unit 5 with five permits in each hunt. One hunt would run Oct. 1-14 and the other Nov. 1-14.  The current long season in Unit 5 would not change.  The moose population size and bull and calf ratios indicate Unit 5 can withstand increased hunting, he said.

Unit 6 currently has three moose hunts, including one long hunt from Sept. 15-Dec. 1. Each of the hunts has had 15 tags.   The proposed season would increase the number of tags in the long hunt to 20.  The two shorter seasons would not change in dates or permit levels under the current proposal. 

"The change is proposed because harvest rates are high, the average number of days hunted to take a moose is decreasing, and there has not been a decrease in the antler spread of harvested bulls from Unit 6," Cooper said.

All comments will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission prior to setting the seasons at their meeting on Jan. 22.

34 bald eagles counted at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 34 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area of Lake Coeur d'Alene.  That's up from 18 eagles counted last week during her weekly survey. Two weeks ago she counted only four.

Bald eagles traditionally show up from early November into January for a winter feast of spawning kokanee.

However, last year by the second week of December Hugo had counted 57 eagles and in 2012 the count was well over 130 eagles.

The 2013 bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene peaked at 217 on Dec. 30.

Hugo said she plans to survey areas on Lake Pend Oreille to see if the lake's revival of kokanee at has siphoned off some of the eagle interest in Lake CdA.

Lake CdA bald eagle gathering is annual photo op

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Now that the bald eagles are starting to show for their annual kokanee feast at Lake Coeur d'Alene, photographers are making plans to capture big-bird images through their cameras.

S-R Outdoors is making it easy for you to share your photographic gems with our 2014-2015 Readers' Eagle Photo Gallery.

Last season's Eagle Photo Gallery inspired a lot of people and showed just how talented our readers are at capturing the eagles in rest and in action. Check it out.

The map above by reader and wildlife watcher Tim Colquhoun is an excellent guide to getting started in your eagle-watching pursuits, whether they're with a camera or simply with binoculars.

Four bald eagles show up at lake CdA, so far

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Four bald eagles were counted today at Lake Coeur d'Alene in the weekly fall survey conducted during the annual fall-winter congregation at the northeast corner of the lake.

That's up from zero birds counted last Wednesday by U.S. Bureau of Land Management biologist Carrie Hugo in her first survey of the season.

Eagles were at Higgens Point and in the Beauty Bay area this week, she said.

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

“It is not too unusual for the count to be very low (in mid-November),” she said.

The 2013 bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene peaked at 217 on Dec. 30.

A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Wolf Lodge Bay on Dec. 29, 2011.

Bald eagles slow to show at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual winter congregation of bald eagles at Lake Coeur d'Alene has not yet started, according to biologists who surveyed the north end of the lake on Wednesday.

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 Wolf Lodge Bay.

"No eagles at all," said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, reporting on her first weekly eagle survey of the season.

"I'd bet they are up on (Lake) Pend Oreille as I have had one report of eight eagles out on the ice." 

  • A reader has pointed out that numerous bald eagles are on other rivers, such as the Clearwater, where big runs of fall chinook and coho are providing plenty of food for scavengers. Recovery of these runs may be changing eagle movements even though numbers throughout the region could be increasing.

The recovery of Pend Oreille's kokanee population in recent years may be giving bald eagles more choices.

Last year at this time Hugo counted only three bald eagles at Wolf Lodge Bay.  "It is not too unusual for the count to be very low (in mid-November)," she said.

But the 2013 bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene peaked at 217 on Dec. 30.

A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake CdA's Wolf Lodge Bay on Dec. 29, 2011.

Veterans’ sign-up for CdA bald eagle cruise Friday

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A special cruise boat is being reserved for veterans, military personnel and their families for a tour on Lake Coeur d'Alene on Nov. 29 to view the annual congregation of bald eagles that come to feast on spawning kokanee.

The yearly event is so popular, two tours will be offered, advance registration is required and priority will be given to veterans, active military personnel and their families who have not previously joined one of the cruises, said Suzanne Endsley, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman.

The BLM, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, offers the Veteran’s Eagle Watch Cruise on Wolf Lodge Bay free of charge. Registration is required and party size is limited to six persons.   

Reservations will be accepted by telephone starting Friday at 7:45 a.m.

Reservation can be made for either the morning cruise that departs at 10 a.m. and returns by noon or the afternoon cruise that sails at 1 p.m. and returns by 3 p.m. from the Coeur d’Alene Resort Lake Cruises boat dock located on the east end of the Resort.

The general public can book eagle-watching cruises with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, (208) 765-2300 ext. 5623. The boats will run weekends Dec. 6-28 and Monday-Friday from Dec. 26 to Jan. 4.

The two-hour cruises cost $15-$23, with the cheaper tickets for kids and seniors.

Tracks: wildlife stories in the snow

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The weather presented only one brief opportunity for good tracking conditions through fresh snow during the nine-day Washington modern firearms elk hunting season that ended on Sunday.

Fresh snow is to hunters what the pages of a book are to voracious readers. We long for it.

Even though I tried to focus on elk tracks on the one day of snow we had in the Blue Mountains last week, I couldn't help but be sidetracked by other creatures and the stories they left in the snow for me to read.

In this case, my pursuit of wapiti was interrupted by a fling with, perhaps, chickati.

Ponderosa moose family livin’ the life

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Moose in wild and not-so-wild areas are popular subjects for in Inland Northwest shutterbugs, as one can see in a glance on our Readers' Outdoor Photo Gallery.

But some neighborhoods are more oriented to family living than others.

"This moose family visits us frequently in the Ponderosa neighborhood," said Bob Fulton as he emailed the photo.

Study: World’s wildlife decline 52% since 1970

WILDLIFE WATCHING — According to a new study, the World Wildlife Fund estimates that the overall number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish declined 52 percent between 1970 and 2010.

Previous surveys released in 2012 pegged the decline at 28 percent, but a closer look at losses in Latin America and Southeast Asia provided even more sobering numbers.

Humans are the root of the problem, where unregulated hunting, overfishing, deforestation, pollution and various forms of habitat destruction are taking their toll.

WWF scientists found that some bird, fish, reptile and mammal populations are increasing, some are stable and some are declining. But the declining populations are declining so sharply that the overall trend is down — and Earth has lost half its wildlife overall.

The bleakest outlook is for freshwater populations — fish, frogs, shorebirds — which have declined 76 percent. Habitat loss and water pollution are the main drivers.


Bull moose a picture of autumn

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Montana outdoor photographer Jaimie Johnson caught this bull moose last week feeding among autumn colors.

The moose, the largest member of the deer family in North America, is in the final stages of rubbing velvet off the huge antlers its grown since spring — a ridiculously short period for developing two massive bones that likely weigh around 15 pounds apiece.

First chick hatches under Sandpoint ‘osprey cam’

WILDLIFE WATCHING — An osprey chick has just hatched for all the world to see under the watchful eye of the Sandpoint, Idaho, Osprey Cam.

The chick is the first of three eggs to hatch. The others should hatch soon. Viewers can tune in to watch in real time as the new osprey family begins and grows.

The video camera is on a nest above Sandpoint’s War Memorial Field on Lake Pend Oreille.

Video cam captures spectrum of critters in Stevens County

WILDLIFE WATCHING — How many species of critters will pass the lens of a trail camera positioned at one spot in Stevens County, Wash.?

You'll be surprised.

Keep your eye open for the bobcat.

Photograph has eye for great gray owl

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The eyes of the great gray owl are haunting, as you can see in the photo made this week by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson, who reports, poetically:

We spent the day again today with the Great Grays near Great Falls – wonderful birds.
They are very social birds, they actually fly and land near us when we are watching them.
They sit low in trees and listen intently for mice moving under the snow (waste deep).
When the time is right, they dive into the snow and grab the mice. They then crawl out
Of the hole and sit on the snow while they eat their prize. Once it is gone, it’s back to the
Low branch to do it all over again.

Owls are alive and well in the city

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I've had quite a few comments regarding my recent column, Timing is of the essences for wildlife, including several comments about premier wildlife watching opportunities great horned owls provide right here in River City.

For several years, from late December and for many weeks, we have heard (almost any hour of day or night) and rarely seen one or possibly two pair in our block near 46th, just east of Crestline. They favor a huge redtail hawk nest in a ponderosa, and are audible in a closed house with the t.v. going.  Love it!

—Tom Kearney

Elsewhere, Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson said he and his wife Lisa have been closely watching three pairs of great horned owls already on nests despite the recent winter storms.

He describes the photo above:

This particular shot is a male sitting about a foot above the female (that’s on the nesting spot). Males are generally quite a bit smaller than the females.

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.


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.

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.

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:


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.


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. 

Video: Sullivan Lake kokanee spawning in Harvey Creek

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spawning kokanee provide vivid autumn wildlife viewing opportunities at several classic sites in the Inland Northwest.

Edward Cairns employed his Go-Pro video camera on Monday and took advantage of the easy-access viewing at the south end of Sullivan Lake near Metaline Falls, Wash., where kokanee move out of the lake to spawn in Harvey Creek.

Thanks for sharing the footage (above), Edward.

This is a great place to bring kids for a wildlife viewing adventure, with excellent fall hiking opportunities all around, including the Sullivan Lake Shoreline Trail. This weekend should be prime time for seeing the most kokanee packed under the road bridge at the south end of the lake.

The run typically lasts until the middle of December.

 The run of the land-locked sockeye salmon is comprised of three-year-old fish leaving Sullivan Lake and swimming up Harvey Creek to find suitable spawning sites.  From Harvey Creek’s banks or the bridge, the fish are visible as they separate from the schools and pair up with mates. 

Females dig a redd (deposit site) to lay eggs and within a few days die.  Their decaying bodies provide nutrients to the creek and Sullivan Lake vital to the growth of plankton and insect life that will feed next year’s young.  The dying salmon also feed animals like bald eagles, raccoons, and mink.  Kokanee eggs hatch in February and remain in the gravel until spring where they are swept away into Sullivan Lake to start another cycle.

DIRECTIONS:  From Highway 31 south of Ione, turn east on County Road 9345 toward the Sullivan Lake Ranger Station and Sullivan Lake.  The bridge is at the south end of the lake.

Updates: Sullivan Lake Ranger District, (509) 446-7500 or stop in at the ranger station on the northwest end of the lake for a brochure on the Kokanee. 

Harvey Creek is closed to fishing from the mouth to the second county bridge, and open above the second county bridge from the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31. 

Click here for complete fishing regulations.


Bald eagles raising young over Lake CdA, throughout region

UPDATED 12:30 p.m. with info from Idaho Fish and Game.

WILDLIFE — May is family time for bald eagles, which have been steadily gaining a greater foothold in the Inland Northwest as they're considered one of the shining examples of Endangered Species Act recoveries.

This bald eagle family was photographed at Lake Coeur d'Alene over the weekend by Larry Krumpelman and posted on the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society website.

Idaho will conduct a bald eagle nesting survey next year, the first since 2008, when more than 50 breeding territories were documented in the Panhandle from Lake Coeur d'Alene and northward.  Surely there's that many or more.

Spokane County alone has 15-20 active nests, said Howard Ferguson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department area wildlife biologist.

The bald eagle, one of the first species to receive protections under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967, was been removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 2007. After decades of conservation efforts, the bald eagle exhibited a dramatic recovery, from a low of barely 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, to more than 10,000 nesting pairs.

Nesting bald eagles can be resiliant.  

A bald eagle nest surveyed near Post Falls Dam blew down during an early July 2008 windstorm. The nest was home to 3 chicks at or very close to fledging. All chicks were observed after the windstorm and presumed to have successfully fledged.

The eagle pair rebuilt their nest in the same tree in December 2008, according to the IFG survey report.

CdA Audubon members have eagle eyes for birds

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A group of Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society members has a little contest to see how many species they can see in a year from their homes.  You can bet the binoculars and spotting scopes are always on hand.

While all members of the club set a record of 209 species in 2012 for their Kootenai County big year, this group of 10 couples chipped in a whopping 110 species without venturing beyond their back yards.

Click here to see the report of the species they recorded.

Read on for a summary of their findings compiled by member Dough Ward.

Whooo are the first love birds of the season?

WILDLIFE — At least one bird species in the Inland Northwest was way ahead of the crowd on the procreation front, as I mentioned in today's Outdoors column.

But birdwatcher reporting from Pend Oreille County Wednesday said they a raucus bunch of hungry nestlings proved that common ravens weren't far behind.

Bobcat finds backyard squirrels appetizing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Newcastle, Wash., man got a rare daylight view of a bobcat and her kitten in action this week — through his kitchen window.

J.D. Hammerly was able to snap photos of the bobcat squirrel hunting spree in his backyard.

Newcastle is in Western Washington bettween Issaquah and Mercer Island.

Bald eagle numbers dropping at Lake CdA

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Although plenty of bald eagles are still hanging around, the annual congregation at Lake Coeur d'Alene peaked around Dec.19 and numbers are declining.

Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 157 bald eagles Thursday in cold, clear weather in the Wolf Lodge area where the eagles gather from November into January to feed on spawning kokanee.

That's down from 183 bald eagles counted Dec. 28during BLM's weekly survey.

This season's high count was 260 bald eagles surveyed on Dec. 19. The count was 204 eagles on Dec. 13, 121 eagles on Dec. 5and 100 eagles counted on Nov. 27.

A record 273 bald eagles was countedat Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.

Hugo said she counted 31 immature bald eagles Thursday and126 adults, which have the white heads. Snow in the trees around the lake help camouflage adult eagles, making them more difficult to see – and easier to miss — than on a day with no snow in the trees.