Snake River - C.J. Strike Dam to Walter’s Ferry [SN10]
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area was initially established in the early 1970s and then expanded in 1993 to protect a nesting sanctuary for more than than 800 pairs of raptors, including 15 different species that nest in the area such as golden eagles, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks and northern harriers. Power boat tours of the 485,000-acre conservation area allow guests to see white furry golden eagle chicks in cliff nests and view other nesting birds of prey. The best way to see the nests is by boat along with binoculars and spotting scopes. The best time to do the tours is in April through June when birds of prey are hatching and flying around the canyon. River guides will be able to identify the different kinds of hawks, eagles, falcons and owls in the area. Bring your bird books for reference. It’s an exciting tour where you will learn how to identify the birds in flight and learn about relationships between raptors and their prey. Essentially, the birds nest in the cliffs, and hunt for food on the flats above the Snake River canyon, eating primarily rodents and other prey. The late Morley Nelson was a falconer and national champion for birds of prey based in Boise. He did numerous films for Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color series that showcased his beloved birds of prey, including films “Ida the Offbeat Eagle” and “Rusty and the Falcon.” Nelson trained and handled the birds of prey seen in the movies. He also brought Marlin Perkins to the Snake River canyon for several “Wild Kingdom” segments shown to a national television audience. Another neat opportunity to see birds of prey up close and personal exists at the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in south Boise. Tours occur several times daily.