South of Boise, Where Eagles Soar: A Spring Outing on the Spectacular Snake River. (Day Trip)

By Ronayne, Diane | Sunset, March 2002 | Go to article overview

South of Boise, Where Eagles Soar: A Spring Outing on the Spectacular Snake River. (Day Trip)


Ronayne, Diane, Sunset


Romance is in the air above Idaho's Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Near Kuna, 15 miles southwest of Boise, the preserve was set aside to protect eagles, falcons, and hawks. For them, springtime means courtship and nesting. Take a hike here from mid-March through May, and you'll see these exhilarating creatures building nests, soaring, hunting, and wheeling overhead in intricate flights designed to woo.

Begin at the Kuna Visitor Center, where you can study a wall map outlining points of interest in the conservation area's 485,000 acres. Then drive south to Celebration Park in the Snake River Canyon. Along the way, roll down your window to inhale the scent of sage and watch for tiny speckled burrowing owls hopping about their ground nests. Look for the soaring rough-legged hawk and the hovering kestrel as each hunts for ground squirrels and other rodents.

At Celebration Park you can scan the 300-foot basalt cliffs (binoculars are a must; bring your own), where birds of prey nest. The birds are most active in early morning and late afternoon. The aggressive prairie falcon is a standout: It can fold its long, pointed wings and dive (for prey and for fun) at speeds up to 150 miles per hour. …

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