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The bald eagles are coming home to roost in droves, and wildlife managers want you to see it

Living the Wild Life

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With bald eagles showing up in the mature cottonwoods lining the canal near the headquarters of the Camas National Wildlife Refuge, the Friends of Camas will be holding their Fourth Annual “Come to Roost at Camas” celebration on Saturday, Feb. 23, at the refuge. Activities will begin at 4 p.m. when the eagles usually start to come in to roost for the night.

“We get the higher numbers on cold nights because of the thermal effect created by the trees,” Brian Wehausen, the Refuge Manager said. “We will be serving hot chocolate and tea for those that attend and the auto-route around the refuge will be open all day for people to enjoy the other wildlife if visitors come early.”

The activity will occur near the entrance to the refuge where spotting scopes will be set up for visitors to watch and study the eagles as they come to roost for the night. Birding experts along with members of the Friends of Camas will be available to explain what is happening as you observe the eagles.

During the day most of the eagles have been out looking for food at the local farms and ranches where lambing and calving activities have produced rich food for the eagles. Most of the eagles coming in to roost are mature and it is exciting to listen to the birds as they chatter about what food sources they have found during the day. Some may come in from as far away as the Henrys Fork of the Snake River where they have been feeding on ducks and fish.

“With the recent heavy snows deer and elk have been killed on the freeway near Sage Junction and these dead animals are attracting eagles,” said Wehausen. “There was also a herd of antelope that was killed by a train and the dead animals have had to be removed near the tracks so the eagles do not get hit by the trains.”

As you make your way to the Camas NWR and the nearby town of Hamer, watch closely as there are about 40 head of deer and some elk crossing the roads from Market Lake to Hamer. There is also a large herd of elk on the refuge that can usually be seen from the road running from Hamer to Camas NWR.

If you would like more information about the “Come to Roost at Camas,” you can contact Wehausen at (208) 241-5410.

NEW FEATURE: In my weekly column, I am going to list what and when people can expect to start seeing migrations showing up in southeastern Idaho including Market Lake, Mud Lake, and the Camas NWR. These will be the traditional averages of their arriving here.

March 1 – Male Red-winged blackbirds start establishing their territories.

March 5 – Sandhill cranes usually show up and Great-horned owls start nesting.

March 10 – Tundra and Trumpeter swans migrate through the area and usually only stay a few days.

March 15 – Snow geese start arriving with some staying until late April. These can be seen in amazing numbers with flocks up to 50,000 some years.

March 20 – Long-billed curlews show up and Pintails, Mallards and Teal ducks show up in huge flocks.

March 22 – Tree swallows start showing up to stake out their nesting spots.

March 25 – Peregrine falcons return to Camas NWR.

March 30 – Duck numbers peak on ponds in the Osgood area, Mud Lake, Market Lake and Camas.

Brian Wehausen would like to remind anyone that observes swans with colored and numbered neckbands to report the color, number and where they were observed so they can be tracked.