Winter is a time for bald eagle watching. In the Skagit Valley during the peak viewing season — mid-December to late January — you might be able to see as many as 100 eagles just from Highway 20.
During this period, eagle counts are done by North Cascades National Park staff and Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest staff from Newhalem to Sedro-Woolley, and the findings are posted online.
One of our followers, Henry Skorny, sent along photos from an eagle-counting trip he made from Newhalem to Marblemount on Jan. 21-22. Check them out!
Henry counted roughly 20 eagles on the river during his trip — eagle numbers begin to dwindle in January as they move on to new feeding areas. Henry said he also observed several juvenile eagles.
In 1976, The Nature Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife created the Skagit River Bald Eagle Natural Area. In winter, bald eagles now gather in the area by the hundreds to feed on returning salmon, inspiring a popular annual festival in Arlington. Seattle City Light and Skagit Land Trust are also important partners in protecting this area.
This project includes another six landowning partners and has preserved more than 9,000 acres of eagle habitat, including more than 10 miles of river and thousands of acres of forests.
This year presented a special opportunity as part of the festival to go to Nature Conservancy property on Port Susan Bay on Feb. 4 to observe eagles and other birds, such as snow geese. The Skagit Audobon arranged for volunteers on a dike along the bay to help non-birders find birds.
Ian Terry of The Everett Herald was along on this trip and captured photos.
Do you have any bald eagle photos of your own to share? They don't have to be from this year! Submit them in the form below and check back to see submissions we receive.