Coeur d' Alene Field Office

Winter Refuge

Bald eagles pair for life. They remain aloof from other pairs in their northern nesting areas, raising their young and feeding on fish. Prey disappears as Canadian winters bring deep snows and sub-zero temperatures to eagle habitat. Each fall, the birds leave their nesting areas and migrate south to milder climates where they spend the winter. As they migrate, bald eagles become more social, often congregating at winter grounds.

Wolf Lodge Bay along Coeur d’Alene Lake in northern Idaho is one of many wintering grounds along the eagles’ annual migration route. Steep mountains covered with western larch, Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine and grand fir rise from the lakeshore.

Northern Idaho’s average winter temperature of 22°F and average annual snowfall of 60 inches is mild compared to the frozen country that lies to the north. Wolf Lodge Bay’s rocky shores, submerged gravel beds and unique water ecology lures many eagles.

It provides ideal habitat for kokanee salmon - a primary winter food source for bald eagles. Wolf Lodge Bay harbors an abundant supply of these small, landlocked salmon. The blend of rugged topography, dense tree growth, mild climate and ample food draws eagles to Wolf Lodge Bay each winter.

Wolf Lodge Bay is seven miles southeast of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and is bordered by Interstate 90 to the north and Idaho Route 97 to the east and south. This makes the area surprisingly close and easily accessible to 500,000 people in Kootenai County, Idaho and Spokane County, Washington.