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Winter Refuge

Itís prime bird watching time for eagles and other raptors
Herald and News 12/8/06

The latest refuge bird count, conducted Wednesday by airplane, showed 138,500 wildfowl in the refuge system. That included 119,000 waterfowl in Lower Klamath Refuge and 13,930 in the Tule Lake Refuge.
 
File photos courtesy of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge Eagles eat a duck on a frozen Lower Klamath Refuge marsh. A count done of the refuge Wednesday revealed 138,500 wildfowl in the system.
 

 
By STEVE KADEL
H&N Staff Writer
December 9, 2006

    The distinctive honk of Canada geese filled the air Friday afternoon at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. 

    The birds were less than 100 yards off a road near the refuge visitor center, sharing a bit of open water with snow geese and mallards. 

    Refuge officials say itís prime bird watching time, with eagles and other raptors arriving daily. The Klamath Basin has the largest concentration of bald eagles in the Lower 48 states from December through February. 

    This winter theyíre scattered among several areas in the refuges due to early freeze-up of some water bodies, said Dave Menke of the refuge. 

    Eagles often feed on waterfowl in the Basin, unlike the Alaska variety that dine on salmon. Menke said eagles will hunt by flying until they pick out weather-stressed or injured waterfowl. 

    The latest refuge bird count, conducted Wednesday by airplane, showed 138,500 wildfowl in the refuge system. That included 119,000 waterfowl in Lower Klamath Refuge and 13,930 in the Tule Lake Refuge. 

    Mallards were the most common of 12 species counted in those two refuges, with 62,000 spotted from the air. A total of 2,250 Canada geese, 390 tundra swans, and 44 bald eagles were recorded in the two refuges.
 


 
A northern harrier scans the area in search of its next meal.
 


 
An immature bald eagle eats a bufflehead duck on Tule Lake Refuge. 
 
 
A small hawk winters on Lower Klamath Refuge.
 


 
 
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