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.