Eagle Watcher Volunteers on training day near the Marblemount Fish Hatchery.

Eagle Watcher Volunteers on training day 2011 on the Cascade River near Marblemount Fish Hatchery.

Do you like spending time outdoors and meeting new people? Would you like to learn more about bald eagles, salmon, the Skagit River and the North Cascades? Do you enjoy winter birding, and sharing what you have learned with others? The Forest Service is looking for adult volunteers for our winter volunteer stewardship program. Volunteers staff information tents near eagle viewing areas on the Skagit River, and we get to look at eagles through spotting scopes and binoculars all day. Volunteers can also give nature walks or even formal programs if they have the desire to do so. You don’t have to know anything about eagles, we will teach you.  All you need is a friendly attitude and the desire to talk with the public. This program has been going for 21 years and we would love to see some new faces this year. Volunteer solo or with a friend or relative. The application and more information can be found using the tabs above. I will be in the office beginning November 10 and can be reached at (360)854-2630 if you have more questions.


Clark Creek and Jordan Creek meet the Cascade River near Marblemount Washington

Clark Creek and Jordan Creek meet the Cascade River near Marblemount Washington

Last survey of the season:

Newhalem to Marblemount: 30

Marblemount to Rockport: 18

Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 26

Total: 74

The low chum run sure made this year’s eagle migration to the upper Skagit a bust.  Looking back through historical records, In the 31 years since surveys began, the only year with lower eagle numbers than this one was 1983. That must have been a spectacularly bad chum year!

This does not mean that eagles are in trouble at all. The birds we count here in the winter are mostly migratory. Eagles are opportunistic feeders, and will travel to the areas where food is abundant and easily obtained. In our local area that appears to be the Skagit and Samish deltas, and the Nooksack River.


Nooksack, Jan 11, 2014 by D. Knutzen

Eagles are clearly finding plentiful fish and gathering in much larger numbers on the Nooksack than on the Skagit right now.



My sources in Rockport report nearly constant rain. The forecast is for continued windy conditions overnight and calming by tomorrow.

Today’s eagle hotspot was Marblemount Fish Hatchery, which had nine eagles, some quite close to the road — a photographer’s delight!

We will be out tomorrow.

Hello, eaglewatchers and visitors to the Upper Skagit! The Skagit Eagle Festival 2014 is on each weekend this month.


Marblemount is hosting these special activities January 11-12 as a winter storm bears down on our area. It might be a good day to stay inside and stay dry! Pat Buller is giving a program at noon at the visitor center at Howard Miller County Park, as well as organizing the following:

Organizer: Pat Buller Photography
Saturday and Sunday, January 11 & 12
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Marblemount Community Hall, 60055 State Route 20, Marblemount
Local and natural arts & crafts, bake sale, and fry bread tacos.
11:30 a.m. Sockeye Saga puppet show
12:30 p.m. Rosie James – Storyteller & drummer
2:00 p.m. Peter Ali – Native flutist
3:30 p.m. Paul “Che oke ten” Wagner (Saturday) – Flutist & storyteller or JP Falcon Grady (Sunday) – Acoustic guitarist
Free admission. Donations warmly received.
(360) 770-3173

See ALL the weekend’s activities here.

For the latest weather forecast for Rockport Washington, click here. Eagle watcher volunteers and I will be meeting in the morning and setting up our stations and will be out looking for eagles unless we are forced inside due to extreme weather/Seahawks game/lack of interest.

During Wednesday’s eagle survey I observed several eagles at Milepost 100 and a few at Howard Miller. Will they be out and about this weekend? I’ll let you know.

See you on the river!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Newhalem to Marblemount: 24

Marblemount to Rockport: 33

Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 35

Total: 92

Friday, January 3, 2014

Newhalem to Marblemount: 23

Marblemount to Rockport: 50

Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 32

Total: 105

Why are numbers so low this winter?

According to our source at WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, this season’s Skagit River chum run estimate is not in yet, but could possibly be in the 9-10k range. That is worse than both 2012 (36,408) and 2011 (15, 280), both of which were bad years. DFW has escapement goals of 30K in odd years and 100K in even years. The last time that goal was reached on the Skagit was in 2006, with 104,483.

In good news, we have lots of Coho this year. It is too early to say yet, but numbers could be better than last year.

More fish=more eagles.


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