The Osprey is a fish-eating hawk commonly seen in northern Idaho. At least 100 pairs nest annually in the Coeur d’Alene Lake region including the lower reaches of the St. Joe and Coeur d’Alene Rivers.
Adult Osprey along with the young of the year birds begin their annual southward migration in mid-September, traveling all the way to Baja California, Central America, and many all the way to South America. The adults return in late winter/early spring to the area where they originally hatched.
The University of Idaho and the Idaho Fish and Game Department have been studying and banding Osprey at Coeur d’Alene Lake for over 35 years. The work is done to determine survival and mortality rates and to further define the migration patterns and wintering areas of the population.
To conduct this research, young of the year pre-flight Osprey are briefly taken from nests just before fledging. A band with a unique number is gently applied to one leg, and the 6-7 week old birds are safely placed back in the nests.
You may be wondering what the adult Osprey think of the process. The adults take flight when the research boat approaches. They make their displeasure known with loud, screeching calls intended to scare the biologists away; and, to tell the young Osprey to lie down flat in an effort to hide. Yet, these brave biologists have years of experience banding and they can understand ‘Osprey’ language. Knowing the adult birds are only using scare tactics, they go about their work and get away from the nest in no time flat.
The banding process goes very quickly. After the leg bands are applied and the biologists move away, the adults immediately return to the nests to find their young safe and secure…but sporting new leg bands.
None of us know if having a leg band is a status symbol or an embarrassment in the bird world, but the bands allow for the gathering of some remarkable information to help biologists learn about the species and to manage populations.
Would you like to learn more about this bird that is common to our area in the summer? Consider watching Osprey research work first hand.
An Osprey viewing cruise has been scheduled for Saturday, July 15. The trip will run from 9am –11am. Boarding begins at 830. Be on time as the boat, piloted by Captain Carl Fus of Coeur d’Alene Lake Cruises leaves the dock promptly at 9am!
The cruise will be leaving from the east side of the CdA Resort boardwalk by Tubbs Hill and McEuen Park. Parking is available at the McEuen Park parking lot and on nearby city streets.
The cost of the trip is $20 for adults. Children under 12 are free when with a paying adult. A family rate of $45 covers two adults and three children up to age 18. Seniors and students are $15.
Space is limited to 150 people and reservations are required. Reservations can be made by calling the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce at (208) 664-3194.
Wildlife Biologists will be in a small boat that will travel alongside the Lake Coeur d’Alene Charter Cruise boat. Wildlife Biologist and renowned Osprey researcher Dr. Wayne Melquist will take young of the year birds from nests and band them, while the passengers on the cruise boat watch and take photos.
Speakers on the cruise boat will include wildlife biologists and experts on bird species. They will be on board the cruise boat to provide fascinating biological information on several wildlife species. Sandy Emerson will emcee representing the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce Natural Resources Committee and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Dr. Lisa Manning, Lake Coeur d’Alene Waterkeeper, will present on her program that ensures our lake and watersheds are fishable, swimmable and drinkable and let you know how you can become involved.
Invited guest speakers also include the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s CdA Lake Management Team, the BLM, the Inland NW Land Conservancy, and the Cougar Bay Osprey Preservation Association.
Bring binoculars and a camera. Sun hats and sun screen are advised.
The annual event is sponsored by the Natural Resources Committee of the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce. Cooperators include The Nature Conservancy, the Idaho Fish and Game Department, the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the University of Idaho, the Audubon Society and the Coeur d’Alene Resort.