Saturday, March 6, 2010

Where to see Eagles in or near Eagle, ID

This was published in the March issue of the Eagle Informer magazine, a local community events calendar distributed to everyone in the 83616 zip code:

Where to see Eagles in or near Eagle

Question: My family has lived in Eagle for over a decade, but we have never seen an eagle in Eagle. Are there eagles in this area anymore?

Answer: Bald Eagles can be seen along the Boise River and nearby open water; most likely between the months of November and March. I have seen them several times flying over Eagle Road at both the north and south forks of the Boise River. You may also see them perched on large cottonwoods overlooking the river or ponds in the area.

Many observers find Bald Eagles all along the Boise River starting from old Fort Boise near Parma, through Veterans Park, and all the way out to Discovery State Park near Lucky Peak. The Payette River along highway 55 from Horseshoe Bend to Gardena is also another reliable location to find Bald Eagles. Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge or Lake Lowell, south of Nampa is another Bald Eagle hotspot. It is not uncommon during winter to find a couple dozen of them eating fish or ducks out on the ice.

I figure the early pioneers in this area regularly saw Bald Eagles on the island between the two forks of the river for which they bestowed the name Eagle Island. The name Eagle for the town became official in 1904 when the Odd Fellows filed a plat. (Life in Eagle, Idaho, Hart, pg 18)

Recent Bald Eagle Sightings in the area near Eagle, Idaho.
Yellow markers indicate a sighting within the last month.
(free source

While Bald Eagles prefer wooded areas near open water, Golden Eagles generally are found in more open country. They like rolling hills of barren landscape to hunt for medium sized mammals. I don’t know of any recorded sightings of Golden Eagles in the vicinity of Eagle, but you don’t have to travel too far to see them. (two days before this article was printed Shon Parks and I saw an Golden Eagle at Avimor)

I have discovered that Golden Eagles are most reliably seen in the Snake River Birds of Prey area, especially at the Swan Falls dam south of Kuna on the cliffs above the Snake River. They may be perched on power poles or on cliffs, or soaring overhead.

Map of Recent Golden Eagle Sightings near Eagle.

Several other birds of prey call Eagle home for some or all of the year:

Red-tailed Hawk – Year round – often seen perched on power poles and in trees or soaring overhead.

Swainson’s Hawk – Summer – they like perpetual summer so when its winter here they are hanging out in Argentina during the southern hemisphere summer. Swainson’s Hawks will sometimes perch on lower poles and fences posts and even on the ground in open pastureland where they hunt.

Northern Harrier – Year round – another low perching hawk, often seen flying low over fields while hunting. Look for the prominent white rump patch to help you identify it.

American Kestrel – Year round – often called a Sparrow Hawk, a beautiful small falcon regularly seen on power lines or hovering over a field while hunting.

Cooper’s & Sharp-shinned Hawk – Year round – the most likely hawks to hunt birds at your backyard bird feeder. They are very similar in appearance, with subtle differences.

There are several more hawk and falcon types of birds that one may see in the Eagle area, but those listed above are the most common based on my experience. I encourage you to pick up a bird field guide book at your favorite book store and try to identify each Eagle or Hawk-like bird you see.

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