Thirteen adult bald eagles were identified along the Snake River in north-central Idaho as per a mid-winter survey completed January 15, reports the Idaho Fish and Game.
According to Joel Sauder, a biologist for the Fish and Game, that’s well above the long-term average of nine.
“We counted 13 bald and 8 golden eagles along the 55-mile route up the river,” he said.
Sauder believes the winter’s above-average snowfall and cold conditions may have contributed to the increased number of eagles in the area.
During the winter, the number of observed bald eagles fluctuates widely, and is determined by the amount of open water and availability of prey from year-to-year, says Sauder.
“Each year in early January, Idaho Fish and Game participates in a nationwide survey to estimate the number of bald eagles in each state, their distribution, and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat,” reports Idaho Fish and Game. “Sizes of survey routes vary from single fixed points to 150 miles. Surveys are conducted from vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft, boats, and helicopters.”
Bald eagles, once an endangered species, were upgraded to threatened in 1995 because of successful recovery efforts. If you’re an avid hiker or camper, these eagles are easily observed perching in large trees adjacent to area rivers or in flight; wintering bald eagles feed on fish, carrion, and waterfowl. Adults have a dark brown body and white tail and head, while immature bald eagles are brown and have irregular white plumage.
[photograph: Michael Melford]