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Ospreys Arriving At Lake Coeur d'Alene

Large avian raptors are on their way to take over Lake Coeur d'Alene - not the bald eagles which congregate in deep winter to feast on salmon, but osprey - fish hawks, or as they're known on the west coast, Seahawks.

The Coeur d'Alene chamber of commerce is gearing up to run its annual osprey cruise next month, a time when about 200 pairs of the big birds will nest in a backwater of the lake to raise their young. Lake Coeur d'Alene has become a favorite nesting spot for osprey in their long migration to Mexico and Central America for the winter.

They seem to favor Cougar Bay, a shallow, quiet arm of the lake, partly because of good fishing, and partly because they can find dozens of log pilings, ideal sites for their nests.

Ironically, the pilings - remnants of old log pens used for years to corral timber towed up from the southern reaches of the lake - were once considered eyesores. Dozens of old rotting pilings were pulled out of the mud before conservationists realized they were ideal foundations for the osprey nests.

Last summer, a Cougar Bay group, the Kootenai Environmental Alliance and two marina owners teamed up to install 44 new pilings in the bay.

Nesting boxes were built on top of about half of them - the other half will provide resting spots for the adult birds in their work to bring materials to the nests.

Wildlife observers expect about 200 pairs of ospreys to settle in on the lake this summer.

Those who take the chamber of commerce osprey tour can also watch a biologist scramble up a ladder on the boat to band baby birds.

(The chamber of commerce tour is scheduled Saturday, July 12th)

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