Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Crags and crevices, the deep canyon of the Snake River, thermal updrafts, and a broad plateau rich in small wildlife sustain the greatest concentration of nesting birds of prey in North America.
Congress established the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in 1993 to protect a unique environment that supports one of the world's most dense concentrations of nesting birds of prey. Falcons, eagles, hawks and owls are found here in unique profusion and variety. It is part of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS). The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 officially added the name of conservationist Morley Nelson to the NCA, in honor of Nelson's work on behalf of birds of prey and their habitats.
The BLM manages the area to preserve its remarkable wildlife habitat while providing for other compatible uses of the land, so that birds of prey flourish here as they have for thousands of years.
The area's 485,000 acres host some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that come each spring to mate and raise young. The birds are not on display, and for the most part are wary of humans, usually keeping their distance. The best times to look for raptors are mornings or early evenings in mid-March through June.
Numerous recreation activities besides bird-watching are also possible in the NCA. The NCA is "nature in the rough," with few public facilities, but the birds and their environment offer rich rewards to those willing to experience the area on its own terms and who have the patience to fit into the natural rhythms of life here.
Total area | 600,000 acres
485,000 acres public; 65,000 acres private; 39,000 acres State; 1,000 acres military; 10,000 acres surface waters (rivers, lakes, reservoirs)
Raptor species | 24
16 nesting, 8 migrating/wintering
Location | About 20 miles south of Boise, Idaho
From Interstate 84, take exit-44/Idaho Hwy 69. Continue south for eight miles and turn south on Swan Falls Road and travel 3 miles to the NCA boundary.
Volunteer | Snake River Raptors Volunteers | Idaho Falconers Association
Video | Haven for Hawks in Idaho