The chum are in! Skagit River, December 18, 2014

The chum are in! Skagit River, December 18, 2014

Number of bald eagles counted:

Newhalem to Marblemount: 46
Marblemount to Rockport: 77
Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 126

Total: 249

IMG_0953 Newhalem to Marblemount: 107

Marblemount to Rockport: 37

Rockport to Sedro-Woolley: 50

Total: 194

It was a rainy, windy day but the eagles are out and plentiful! The eagle count got off to a great start with 194 spotted this Wednesday. The river is high due to the flood event which left us expecting to see less eagles this week. We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout. The chum run is predicted to be larger than last year, which has us hoping for higher Eagle numbers this year. Join us this weekend on Highway 20 to take a look! The Forest Service will have booths set up at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Milepost 100 and Marblemount Fish Hatchery. Stay tuned to see what next week brings…


Winter Season Activities on the Upper Skagit River – Eagle Watching and More

Sedro Woolley, WA December 3, 2014—Each year the Skagit River sees the return of hundreds of Bald Eagles that arrive to take advantage of the winter salmon run. Join in on an interpretive hike, hatchery tour or guest speaker series to see and learn more about the Skagit Valley.
Eagle Watcher Information Booth & Spotting Scopes – Saturdays & Sundays December 13th-January 31st 10am-3pm

State Route 20 – Mt. Baker Ranger District – Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Join the Mt. Baker Ranger District at one of three stops along Highway 20 to enjoy and learn about Eagles of the Skagit Valley. Forest Service staff and volunteers will be stationed at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Milepost 100 and Marblemount Fish Hatchery to provide information and Eagle viewing opportunities.
Guided Interpretive Walks & Visitor Centers

Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center- Saturdays and Sundays in December and January from 10am-4pm and weekdays from December 29th-January 2nd
Howard Miller Steelhead Park – 52809 Rockport Park Road Rockport, WA 98283
Join the Forest Service and other trained naturalists for a guided eagle ecology walk near the Skagit River. The Interpretive Center also offers guest speakers each weekend, a warm fire, refreshments and a gift shop. All programs are free of charge.
Guided walks are offered Saturdays & Sundays December 20th-January 31st 11am

Rockport State Park: Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays December 5th – February 15th 10am-2pm
51095 Hwy 20 Rockport, WA 98283
Join trained naturalists at Rockport State Park for a guided hike to learn about old growth forests, eagle habitat and more. ADA accessible trail available. Visit the Discovery Center to participate in a crafts activity and warm up by the crackling fire. Refreshments provided.
*WA State Discover Pass required
Marblemount Fish Hatchery toursSaturdays & Sundays December 7th-February 1st
Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group
8319 Fish Hatchery Road Marblemount, WA 98267
Tour Marblemount Fish Hatchery with Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group and learn about the salmon life cycle, hatchery operations, habitat needs of salmon and other local wildlife and get a chance to view bald eagles.
Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday from December 7th through February 1st from 11am to 3pm and are free of charge.

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.


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