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Eagles and Kokanee: Death and Life

48° declared our outside temperature gauge. It is unseasonably warm. Driving the old highway, Lake Coeur d'Alene to our right, Ponderosa Pines and Fir trees line the cracking pavement. "There's one!" someone shouts. "There's another one!" The water next to us; eagles swooping down, catching their mid-morning breakfast of dying Kokanee Salmon.

We park and unload. Walking up the paved trail to the entrance of the point, watching for more bald heads. "Race you up the hill, Dad!"

"Ok. Are you ready?" I ask. "Yeah."

"3-2-1-GO!" I yell, watching them take off. I chuckle and start with a jog, catching up, passing, while speeding up, the hill gradually becomes steeper. I stop as a massive bald eagle flies above and in front of us, catching me off-guard. "Did you see that one?" I ask everyone. "Yeah, it was huge!"

We climb the hill and into the trees, the pavement gives way to nature. Down the backside and dumps onto the rocky beach below. The cold, mountain, lake water looks chilly and uninviting this time of year. Seagulls fly back and forth, looking for scraps of fish.

We follow the water's edge, all the while watching and counting bald-headed majestic birds. Their cries and talking echo off the water and surrounding mountains.

Dead Kokanee litter broken rock, which has now become a fish cemetery.

Death and life intertwine: the salmon have returned to their birthplace, spawning, and giving new life while eagles hunt and feed on their dying carcasses, to continue the circle again in one year's time.

The scent of decay is heavy; the majesty of the eagles is evident. We live in an awesome area.


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