Just two weekends left to take advantage of free guided walks on the upper Skagit River to see arguably the largest concentration of bald eagles in the country, outside of Alaska. The feast offered by spawned-out salmon carcasses along the river draws dozens of the big birds during the winter from their summer habitat in Canada and Alaska, but they won’t be here much longer.
The U.S. Forest Service and volunteers count the visiting eagle population each Wednesday, on different sections of the river, and publish the findings on the Skagit Eagle Watchers website (skagiteaglewatchers.wordpress.com). The Jan. 13 count — the last one for this winter — showed 13 birds from Marblemount to Newhalem; 30 birds from Rockport to Marblemount; and six birds from Sedro-Woolley to Rockport.
The place to begin is at the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center in Rockport, which is the starting point for the expert-led, one-mile walks along the river bank featuring talks by USFS rangers and others on not only the eagles, but also on the unique and important natural history of the river itself. The walks take place at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of the month, with no reservations required.
The center also hosts talks on the geology, flora and fauna of the Skagit Valley at 1 p.m. every Saturday through the end of January.
For more information, visit skagiteagle.org or phone 360-853-7626.