Eagles return to the region in record numbers

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  • (Photo by CHRISTOPHER CHAFFEE/Lightbenders) Bald eagles fly through the sky earlier this month near Mineral Ridge on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The birds’ annual migration this year has brought record numbers of eagles to feast on kokanee salmon.

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    CHRISTOPHER CHAFFEE/Lightbenders Bald eagles fly through the sky earlier this month near Mineral Ridge on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The birds’ annual migration this year has brought record numbers of eagles to feast on kokanee salmon.

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  • (Photo by CHRISTOPHER CHAFFEE/Lightbenders) Bald eagles fly through the sky earlier this month near Mineral Ridge on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The birds’ annual migration this year has brought record numbers of eagles to feast on kokanee salmon.

  • 1

    CHRISTOPHER CHAFFEE/Lightbenders Bald eagles fly through the sky earlier this month near Mineral Ridge on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The birds’ annual migration this year has brought record numbers of eagles to feast on kokanee salmon.

  • 2

The eagles keep coming to Lake Coeur d’Alene in record numbers.

Carrie Hugo, wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management office in Coeur d’Alene, counted 383 bald eagles Wednesday afternoon on the east side of the lake.

Hugo spotted 326 adults, 56 juveniles and one of undetermined age.

This is the highest number of the birds the BLM has counted since it began conducting annual migration counts.

The surging temporary eagle population continues as the BLM is set to kick off its annual Eagle Watch Week at recreation sites along the east end of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 27, the five-day event is held in partnership with Idaho Fish and Game and has become a popular holiday week activity in North Idaho.

Through Sunday, Dec. 31, agency personnel will be available at BLM’s Mineral Ridge trailhead parking lot as well as the Mineral Ridge boat launch parking area to answer questions and provide information about bald eagles.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day — except for an early 2 p.m. closing on Dec. 31 — members of the public can also enjoy the use of high-powered spotting scopes, view mounted specimens and learn interesting details related to the lifestyles of our magnificent national symbol.

Bald eagles migrate each winter to Lake Coeur d’Alene to feast on the spawning kokanee salmon and this year is one of the most robust migrations the area has seen. The weekly counts, along with other interesting facts regarding bald eagles, can be found by visiting blm.gov/idaho/eaglewatch.

Eagle observers are asked to use designated parking areas and refrain from parking on the shoulder of Highway 97. Normal vehicle travel is not restricted on the highway, and both drivers and pedestrians should be respectful of traffic by not walking in the travel way or utilizing the shoulder to scout for eagles.

There are rare cases when severe weather does not permit setting up equipment or staffing the viewing sites, so the BLM has set up an “Eagle Watch Hotline” to provide a daily status update. Information is available by calling 208-769-5048 after 9 a.m.

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