WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Kokanee are spawning and dying in North Idaho's two largest lakes and bald eagles have begun congregating for the annual feast.
Dozens of eagles are congregating at Granite Creek and in the Bayview shoreline area to take advantage of revived kokanee fisheries in Lake Pend Oreille.
Lake Coeur d'Alene is more accessible and better known for the eagles that congregate from November into January to feast on the kokanee -- land-locked sockeye salmon -- spawning in Wolf Lodge Bay.
The number of eagles varies from year to year, with 31 adult (white-headed) eagles and 6 immatures counted today in the first weekly survey of the eagle season by Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist.
The bald eagles provide a popular wildlife-viewing attraction with numbers of birds and viewers gradually increasing into December. Photographers such as Jerry Rowles, who captured the shot with this post, carve out time every year to greet the eagles with camera's and long lenses on tripods.
- A record 273 bald eagles was counted at Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.
- Last year, the congregation at Lake Coeur d'Alene peaked in December at around 260 birds, according to Hugo's surveys.
Good eagle viewing points around Wolf Lodge Bay include Higgens Point and turnouts off Highway 97, including Mineral Ridge.
Idaho State Patrol officers warn eagle viewers that traffic rules must be followed and vehicles must be parked properly off the highway.
- See this blog post for tips on CdA eagle viewing areas.