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Annual Eagle Count

The Annual Eagle Count is a nationwide event that is coordinated locally by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and takes place during the first full week in January. Snake River Audubon has long participated and has been monitoring a 3.5 mile stretch of the Henry's Fork from Ponds Lodge and the Island Park Dam through the woods and along the river to the junction of the Harriman State Park ski trail. Watch our Home page for the official date and details for participating.

Also, more about eagles: Camas National Wildlife often has 50-100 bald eagles roosting in the trees around headquarters mid to late winter. In late February or early March the Friends of Camas NWR organization and Snake River Audubon has a late afternoon field trip to watch the eagles come in. It is spectacular. Watch the Home page for details.

January 15, 2022: The 2022 Winter Eagle Count was scheduled for Jan 8, but due to road closures was rescheduled to the following Saturday. Mark and Donna were the only participants. And of the two, Mark was the main scout. Donna stayed in the car getting used to a new hip she acquired late in December.

The weather was beautiful as it can be this time of year. Mark saw only 2 adult Bald Eagles. But that low count can probably be attributed to an abundance of ice fishers, cross country skiers, and gunfire consequent of an insurgency of Canada geese and marauding ducks.

But there is always next year. Also, Donna reported the place to be for counting eagles was near the entrance to the Camas National Wildlife Refuge up near Hamer where Bald and Golden eagles roost in the aged cottonwoods along the canal to the north. Donna reported 26 bald and 8 golden eagles. This phenomenon persists into early spring. Plan to be there any evening just after sunset. Approaching the Refuge and just before the Eastside Ditch, there is a shed-roofed parking structure on the left with ample parking area in front. Park there, and train your scope on the trees to the west and north. It is a sight to see the eagles soaring in, their earlier arriving colleagues chirping welcome to them. There are often well over 50 eagles there of an evening. Let us know what you find!

January 9, 2021: 3 bald eagles reported this year along our stretch of the Henry's Fork by our 5 participants. Good snow conditions.

January 4, 2020: Rather harsh conditions this year, only 2 eagles recorded. This is surely not an indication of population crash. More likely it's that the eagles have more sense than to be abroad in that kind of weather. Mark and Donna's report is available to view or download from our Birding Resources page. Look in the list of uploads at the bottom of the page for "2020 MIDWINTER BALD EAGLE SURVEY.pdf".

Annual National Eagle Count January 6, 2018: Short answer is 3 adult BAEA's. Snow was really bad. But there's never a bad day Birding! See the Trip Report (2018 Site 64...) and location map (Eagle Count 2018.jpeg) downloadable from our Birding Resources page. Report PDF and image of the Count location:

January 9, 2016: Good turnout again this year. Excellent snow! Not too cold. There were 2 adult bald eagles sighted. Although this seems like a small number, we have to keep in mind the eagles are highly mobile and can have a very wide home range. A low number one year can not be interpreted as a real population change.

January 10, 2015: Good turnout this year. After considerable milling around we learned from a Pond's Lodge waitress that they had not served breakfast for at least 3 years... (maybe we were dreaming in previous years?) So we decamped to The Trout Hunter down the road at Last Chance, where surprised and overwhelmed, but cheerful enough waitresses got us breakfast. Snow was good, though a little icy under the trees. Weather was mild and just below freezing all day with no wind, so the snow stayed good and we didn't freeze. At the end of the day, and after considerable debate, we agreed there were 4 adult bald eagles along the lower Buffalo River and Brimstone Trail loop down the Henry's Fork. No young birds again; I don't know whether that reflects a dip in eagle reproductive success in this area, or that young birds go somewhere else in winter.

Also saw:

  • Common goldeneye (No Barrow's which are usually more common)
  • Mallards
  • Possible pintail
  • At least 12 Trumpeter swans, only a few cygnets
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Clark's nutcracker
  • Ravens
  • Dipper below the Island Park Dam
  • Lots of Chickadees

January 11, 2014: Only two skiers braved the weather and reported three adult Bald Eagles in the Boggy Spring section of the trail out from Pond's Lodge.

January 14, 2013: Fourteen cross country skiers and two on snowshoes participated in this year’s winter eagle count in Island Park. Six adult Bald Eagles were reported. The team also observed the following birds:

  • Great Blue Heron—1
  • Trumpeter Swans — 10
  • Mallards — 6
  • Common Goldeneyes — 12
  • Common Mergansers — 2
  • Belted Kingfisher — 2
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Mountain Chickadees
  • Red-breasted Nuthatches — 2
  • Dark-eyed Juncos — 6
  • Pine Grosbeaks — 6

January 12, 2012: Thirteen cross country skiers participated in this year's count in Island Park. Only 2 adult Bald Eagles were seen (near Box Canyon). Other species observed included Trumpeter Swans (adults and cygnets), Canada Geese, Common Goldeneyes, and a Brown Creepers. Skiers also heard many chickadees.