The eagles are coming back and Friends of Camas are hosting “Come To Roost” event again - East Idaho News


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The eagles are coming back and Friends of Camas are hosting “Come To Roost” event again

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After a two-year hiatus, the Friends of Camas will host the “Come To Roost At Camas” event on Feb. 11, from 4:30 p.m. until dark. The event will take place at the Camas National Wildlife Refuge, north of Hamer on the corner of 2150 East and 2350 North where a large parking area has been plowed out.

“We will be serving hot chocolate and cookies to those that attend,” said Dave Strickland, a board member in charge of wildlife issues. “Right now, we have about 15 mature bald eagles coming in, but expect to have more show up in mid-February.”

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Last year 20 to 40 eagles showed up each night to roost in the large cottonwoods north of the refuge headquarters. For some reason, the number of mature Bald eagles have been dropping in recent winters.

“As our numbers have dropped, the numbers of eagles have been increasing at Hagerman in the Magic Valley,” said Brian Wehausen, Manager of Camas NWR. “But our numbers usually increase as the weather gets colder, and really increase when the calving and lambing operations get going in February. We expect more birds coming in by the time of the event.”

Within the last 10 years, mature Bald eagles have numbered as high as 70 mid the lambing and calving operations at area ranches. Last winter over 20 elk were hit and killed along Interstate 15 and with about 2,500 elk near Hamer, only a few have been hit. If those increase, that could draw more eagles to come to Camas to spend the nights.

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It is an interesting phenomenon that the immature Balds do not normally roost with the mature birds. Most of the area immature birds roost along Camas Creek as it runs into Mud Lake. I recently counted 14 of them in those trees.

After my visits with Strickland and Wehausen, I spent an afternoon traveling the long way from Rexburg to the Camas NWR. The farmland and desert north of the Egin-Hamer Road had mule deer and elk in small to large herds. I also saw two Golden eagles and a couple of Ferruginous hawks mixed in with some Rough-legged and Red-tailed hawks.

If you are planning on attending the “Come to Roost” event, you might consider starting early in the afternoon and drive the country roads looking for other wildlife. The auto route through Camas has been plowed and you might run into some White-tailed deer, porcupines, weasels and other critters. The large herd of elk near Hamer is a sight to behold.

Those of you who visited Camas NWR during the summer and fall, noticed many of the canals and ponds did not have water and construction was going full bore. In my visit with Wehausen, he said the work is about half done and most of it should be finished by the fall of 2023.

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“We have stopped the work for right now and will wait until spring to continue,” explained Wehausen. “With the snow that we have been having in the mountains, we should have water in Camas Creek this spring and summer. We will try to put water on the east side of the refuge, Rays Lake should have water and we are drill three more wells that should put water where we need it most. We have already started putting up an observation tower on the east side of the auto-route, but it won’t be finished until this summer.”

I asked if there were any plans to expand the auto-route through the refuge and he said that it is not in the plans. “These improvements won’t fix everything, but it is a good start,” he said.

Feb. 11 will be a good day to visit Camas to watch the eagles and visit with the personnel about the future of the refuge. Spotting scopes are usually set up for guests to watch the eagles once they land in the trees. I always find it interesting to listen to the eagle’s communication with each other as they tell each other where they have filled their belly that day. Hopefully we will have a few more eagles show up at the refuge by then

Living the Wild Life is brought to you by The Healing Sanctuary.