WILDLIFE WATCHING -- The bald eagle bonanza has boomed at Lake Coeur d'Alene's Wolf Lodge Bay in the past week.
The number of bald eagles arriving for the annual congregation at Lake Coeur d’Alene doubled two weeks ago -- and that number tripled in the past week with a whopping 213 eagles counted today.
"Lots of birds in Beauty Bay and across the lake from Beacon Point," reports Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist. "Lots of frozen dead kokanee on the shoreline."
The big birds are homing in on the feast of spawning kokanee. This year's fish run is the biggest in 20 years in the northeast area of the North Idaho lake.
The bald eagle gathering usually peaks in late December, so breaking 200 on the 8th of the month means word is out in the eagle world. In 2015, the gathering was surveyed at 126 bald eagles on Dec. 10.
- A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.
Hugo performed her third weekly eagle count of the season today, noting166 adults (white heads) and 47 juveniles. In her second eagle survey of the season on Nov. 28, she counted 69 bald eagles in the Wolf Lodge Bay area, up from 26 a week earlier.
The Lake Coeur d’Alene population of kokanee –landlocked sockeye salmon – has been at a fairly high density since 2008, said Andy Dux, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager.
“But this year was our highest estimate since 1996, thus, there should be plenty of kokanee for the eagles,” Dux said.
Bald eagles also are showing up to feed on spawning kokanee at Priest Lake and Lake Pend Oreille, but the birds that return to Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay are notably accessible for viewing south of Interstate 90 at Higgens Point and SR97 from the Wolf Lodge Exit.
The eagles provide a popular wildlife-viewing attraction with numbers of birds and viewers increasing into December.
The BLM has set up a new web page with more information.