Whistler Blog

Eagles in the offing…

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Growing up in Prince Rupert, I had bald eagles in my back yard.  Living on the edge of the Prince Rupert golf course, the giant birds would play on the air currents that would rise up as the ocean air that had travelled across the Pacific from Japan hit Mt. Hayes. This weather pattern meant a lot of rain for Prince Rupert, but it also meant a lot of free air time for the eagles.  From where I lived we could look out the living room window and see black birds soaring in huge lazy circles.  We could tell which were ravens (a prodigious number also liked to roost in the Rupert forests) and which were the eagles by the way the eagle would flash white and then black and back again.  I remember counting seven in the sky one day and thinking that was amazing!  Several years later I was living on the edge of the Nechako River in Northern BC and a single bald eagle visited my backyard regularly waiting on a tree for my cat to come out.  Luckily for my cat, the migrating Canadian geese made their appearance on the river banks and were a much welcomed distraction for the lone eagle.  Now, I don’t have one, or even seven, eagles in my backyard, I have thousands.  Ok. Maybe all of Brackendale doesn’t count literally as my backyard, but as I try to think more globally, I have to consider myself responsible for a bigger “backyard” and thus, the bald eagles that feed on the salmon runs through the winter in the Squamish Valley are in my figurative backyard.  In 1994 the Brackendale Eagle Count was at 3,769. This was a record at the time for the highest number of wintering eagles in an area. Unfortunately, there were only 627 Eagles counted last year.  While this number seems shocking, and yes, devastating, there are a number of reasons why the count could be down, not just that the population has been decimated.  Last year the salmon run in the Squamish and Mamquam rivers happened much earlier, and therefore, there were many more eagles around in the early winter and may have well moved on by the time the Eagle count was done in January.  Whatever the cause, no one can deny the absolute beauty of these fierce flyers.  I have seen them swoop down and catch a fish being thrown back by a fisherman before it touched the water.Catching Fish I have watched them soar, and I have watched them (thanks to Youtube) feed and raise their young.  They have always intrigued me, as they have obviously captured the imagination of entire populations (check out the American emblem) and it is like witnessing magic when you are able to view them in your own back yard.  The eagles are usually in the Brackendale area from November through to March.  If you get a chance, I encourage you to watch the skies and look for the telltale flashing of black and white as the lords of the air enjoy their ride.  Want to help with the count or learn more about the bald eagles in the Squamish Valley?  Check out: Eagle Viewing Eagle Count