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Bald eagle gathering grows at Lake CdA

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 18 bald eagles today in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.  That's up from four eagles counted last week during her weekly survey. 

Today's tally of 13 adults and five immature eagles is down considerably from last year at this time when Hugo counted 57.

In 2012 during this week, she counted 121 bald eagles — 84 adults and 37 immature.

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

For years, 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 next cold snap could send more eagles this way.

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 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 Slow In Return To Lake CdA

The annual gathering of bald eagles that feast on spawning kokanee at Lake Coeur d’Alene is getting off to a slow start. The eagle count at Wolf Lodge Bay is down about 70 percent from last year at this time, said Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist. Hugo made the first weekly survey of the season on Tuesday and counted only 12 bald eagles compared with 42 counted on the same day last year. “It could be the storm we just had,” she said. “We’ll be out on the lake Saturday for the special eagle boat cruise for veterans, so we’ll see if the changing weather makes a difference”/Rich Landers, SR. More here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Which spot is your favorite for watching eagles?

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.

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.

Wolf Lodge Bay Sunset

On her Idaho Scenic Images Facebook page, Linda Lantzy posts the photo above and this cutline information: “On the way to dinner tonight, I detoured out to Wolf Lodge Bay. The sun only lines up across the bay during a few weeks in spring and fall. Looks like I almost missed it this year.”