Hornby Island Eagle Eggs Lost

Hornby Island Nest 2006-2008 ---- The Bald Eagles at Hornby Island BC have lost their eggs. They apparently were infertile ----
see bottom of page for link

----- 1st egg laid March 21 at 5:45 PM
----- Second Egg laid: March 24.
----- Eggs failed and site shut down May 5, 2006 (see new nest with young here)

VIDEO FOR SALE: Doug has made copies of the 37 minute Bald Eagle Nesting (I call it Eagles in Labor) video on DVD and copies are available through this WEB site at $19.95 or $25 with shipping and handling.

----- Call: Free Call: 800 938-1114 or email: sales@hancockwildlife.org -----
VISA or MC accepted.

Current Status

Sad News:

April 30, 2006

Eagles and conservation have been the joy and occasional sadness of my life. This is a sad moment. It appears that the Hornby Island bald eagle eggs are infertile. The first egg should have hatched April the 26 and the second egg today. The first embryo, if it developed at all, is surely dead. The second embryo, could still hatch but I cannot see the proper pipping of the egg shell, where the chicks beak has broken through enabling it to draw in air, the precursor to the final struggle for hatching. It does not look good for this pair this year. In fact this is the second year of failure for this nest territory.

On May 4 it was determined that the eggs were gone -- undoubtedly both infertile. Reasons for the Failure to Hatch:

We cannot be sure. Some educated guesses follow.

The adult eagles are possibly old:

1. This is the 19th year for known nesting results from this tree. It could have been occupied for 50 or more years earlier. Was the same pair occupying the nest all that time? We do not know. Eagles could live that long.

2. If the birds are very old it is possible that they have simply run out of reproductive ability. Perhaps they simply can’t produce viable eggs any longer.

3. Alternatively, it is possible with very old birds that they have accumulated so many pesticides and heavy metals that their reproductive track is no longer able to function properly. This is not at all out of the question. I am told that orcas (killer whales) that now periodically die along the British Columbia and Washington coasts are so polluted and their bodies so loaded with poisons that it is illegal to tow their bodies out to sea or have them hauled to land fills. They carcasses have to be burned. A very sad statement on our polluted earth. Are these eagles, who also occupy the top of the food chain and eat the same basic foods as orcas, also contaminated. Very possibly. Maybe the reproductive success is going to be restricted to younger eagles that have not had so long to accumulated the poisons.

One or more of the adult eagles is young and inexperienced:

1. This is possible – but not liklely. Last year when the territory only hatched one young which died at 6 days of age and the other egg did not hatch, both adults were in full adult plumage – not even just newly matured at 5 years as this would have been indicated by the dark streaking in their white head or dark tail band. These birds appear to be fully mature both last year and this year. Furthermore, this pair appear to e very experienced in nest building that we got to witness in such marvelous detail, and in fullfulling the incubating duties. They hardly left the eggs unattended more than 12 to 40 seconds during any exchange that I witnessed. They are not just good, and I assume experienced parents, but so compatible with each other. I take this beautiful pair to be very experienced parents. So the loss again this year of their eggs I also view as most likely due to loss of fertility due to age or polution.

Other alternatives:

There are infinite options but none seem logical than my first option above. The pair are very used to human disturbance, constantly perching near houses and human activity with no noticeable alarm or concern. While I have received lots of concerned calls and emails at the sounds of power movers, cars, chain saws and dogs we have had an unprecedented opportunity to watch the eagles in the cam and correlate their behavior with disturbances. The noise of civilizations does not seem to phase them a bit.

I found one call from an irate and annoyed caller quite interesting. She heard the disturbance of barking dogs and instantly called me. I was actually calling Doug to question him about this. After many rings he answered the phone and reported that he delayed coming in to the phone until the herd of barking sea lions has passed by his porch. I hardly think barking sea lions would be a disturbance to bald eagles – and indeed barking dogs elicit no interest from the nesting birds either.


Eagles like most creatures in the wild are constantly subjected to the test of survival. Can they find food and make a living? Can they avoid being killed and eaten. Can they avoid hurting and damaging themselves? If they can’t keep their feathers in good condition they won’t be able to fly efficiently and hunt effectively and they will die.

Almost half of the eagles that start nesting loose their eggs or young. Surviving in the wild is not easy. Of those young that survive to fledging only a small percentage are likely to survive the five years to maturity. Once they have proven themselves as good hunters and they enter the breeding population they can produce young for 15 to 25 or more years. Now pause for a moment to contemplate how many eagle there would or could be it the adults were successful lin raising one or two young every year for 20 years! That could be that each pair produced 30 or 40 young – far more than necessary to keep the population stable. And stable would mean producing a new eagle for every one that died.

Therefore, with such a long live potential, their has to be a lot of nest failures or early deaths otherwise the world would be full of eagles – and no room for any other species. Not a balanced system.

So as much as I was very saddened to not see our beautiful pair of adult bald eagles produce eagles this year it is not an unexpected happening that they should fail. If, as I suspect, these are old eagles, they have already produced many replacements for themselves and they have been great contributors to the very successful and expanding eagle population that we have been experiencing the past 50 years. It is not a good thought that they have stopped reproducing because they have become sterile from pollution and this is also not confirmed.

We will hope and expect that other eagles will be more successful and they their young will be flying over our waters. If our adult pair is at the end of its reproductive life we can anticipate younger birds moving into the territory shortly and becoming the parents of the next generations.

David Hancock Frequently Asked Questions Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) if the following does not answer your questions.

HATCHING is due: Any time now - lots of speculation about the spots on the eggs and whether it is dirt or the start of hatching. Other Eagle Information on the Forum Site:

  • A trip to the nest
  • Sponsors vs. No Sponsors
  • Vancouver: The Urban Eagle Capital of the World
  • My Favorite Bald Eagle Photos
  • Bald Eagle Press Coverage - Worldwide!

    INCREDIBLE: Millions of hits per day now. The number of people tuned in to this unedited natural event is truly staggering. More outgoing network bandwidth will be coming online soon to serve more viewers.This has mushroomed in since March 27th from telling 98 people.

    NOTE: I still have neither heard from President Bush, his Education minister. nor Oprah -- where are you when we need you!))
    --- I believe this should be in EVERY school of America! ""No child should be left behind.""

    Hancock House and Hancock Wildlife Research Center are pleased to bring you live video feeds from nesting sites, whale watching sites etc. as and when we can.

    This bald eagle nest site is one of over 600 being studied on Vancouver Island and another 200 now under observation in the Vancouver - Lower Fraser Valley area by the WiTS bald eagle volunteers. We seek observations for each location of all eagle nests in these area as the first step in offering protection to the eagles and their environment. Both Doug Carrick and myself are among the many working on this project.

    Hornby Island Bald Eagle Video:

    --- 35 minutes of the early 2005 nesting season, including the nest building, the egg laying, hatching and chick feeding is available from Hancock Wildlife Research Center ( Sales@hancockwildlife.org ) for $19.95 + shipping. The book: Bald Eagles of Alaska, BC & Wa by David Hancock is also available for $9.95usd -- purchase both and get free shipping in NA.

    Our only site at the moment is the Bald Eagle nesting on Hornby Island British Columbia -- March 21 - she laid her first egg and April 29th they are due to hatch, so it is just happening.


    During the 24 hours of Monday -Mar 27 - over 30,000 people tuned into this site for a few minutes to all day. "I wonder how many people will be watching the day those little chicks hatch? -- hopefully I will!!"
    Update - today, Saturdy, April 29, there are well in excess of 10,000 simultaneous people watching, and as soon as one gets off (and thank you for doing so!) another piles on. More bandwidth is due on Monday - please be patient.


    The response has been quite overwhelming. We have not named the adults yet and from suggestions, particularly from some school children, we ought to be holding a contest to at least name the chick or chicks that hopefully will hatch. Maybe the winners should come to Vancouver BC, see some of the 150 pairs of Urban dwelling eagles that nest in the city and go on a trip to Hornby Island? Maybe a sponsor will come forward?

    David Hancock

    This Original Streaming Video is provided by Doug Carrick and Hancock Wildlife Research Center

    (( -- We are very open to getting some sponsors to help offset the cost of this site and development of other sites -- Contact: David Hancock david@hancockwildlife.org --))

    Note: The video stream originates on a fairly small island 2 ferry trips from Vancouver Island. The Telus ADSL link exists because of the school on Hornby, and we're very happy it does, as otherwise we would not be able to bring you this wonderful adventure. See the article A trip to the nest site for details of where the nest is.

    Note also that the stream is Window Media Player only. A free download.

    VIDEO FOR SALE: Doug has made copies of the 37 minute Bald Eagle Nesting (I call it Eagles in Labor) video on DVD and copies are available through this WEB site at $19.95 or $25 with shipping and handling.

    ----- Call: Free Call: 800 938-1114 or email: sales@hancockwildlife.org or click on the image below for online orders -----
    VISA or MC accepted.

    Details on Nesting Eagles: read more .....

    Background on the Hornby Island Bald Eagle nest:

    This nest is located on Hornby Island in the Gulf Islands area of British Columbia.

    This pair has been nesting in this nest for about 19 years -- usually producing 2 young per year.


    In September of 2004 Doug Carrick organized that a video camera be placed in the nest. This was the one month period when the eagles were absent and the climber's presence would not deterr future breeding.

    He then had the live feed brought to his house across the road so he could see the live action in his living room -- and record the action on his vhs.. That is only the beginning of what is incredible. He got to witness the details of how the eagles bring in and place the branches and mosses. He had an incredible view into the nesting behavior of these eagles.

    EGG LAYING: Doug was present when the first egg was laid and had his recorder going. What he got on tape is I am sure recorded here for the first time. The female's head is less than a foot from the camera and she goes into labor -- straining and grunting (yes captured on the sound tape) and ending with her standing up to proudly look down at a beautiful white egg. It was when I saw that tape that I asked Doug if we could bring this live action the next year to the world through Streaming Video.

    Doug immediately said yes. The last six weeks of trying to get the bugs worked out of the transmission has not gone so easily. At first we suspected the computer we use to compress and digitize the video, however it now appears that inconsistent network connect (via the Telus ADSL) is the problem. On the other hand, the fact that any high speed Inernet is available on this relatively remote island (2 ferry rides from Vancouver Island!) is a wonder of itself. We looked at putting in a radio link but even that would be next to impossible due to limited lines of site to this particular part of Hornby (East side with no direct view of either Vancouver to the Southeast or Comox to the Northeast) and Texada Island in the way of a view to Powel River.

    We're still open to suggestions if any technical reader has them. Please contact Richard Pitt, richard@pacdat.net

    WHO IS DOUG CARRICK: And that is what I asked? First, he's the lucky husband of Shiela. He is also a considerably dedicated conservationist, a retired school teacher and still an educator and very fine person. They are blessed with having a pair of bald eagles nest just behind their house. The eagles' favorite hunting perch tree is in their front yard. The very productive waters, the herring spawn is just finishing this month, seals, sea lions, myriads of seabirds, orcas etc etc. are their constant front window view. Other pairs of bald eagles nest on the next points -- also viewable from their living room window.

    Doug's spare time, when not attending their large and fine garden, is watching eagles, lecturing on eagles and showing the video of these nesting birds.



    Hi Catherine: (my response to a citizen very concerned about us saying where a bald eagle nest was located)

    Re your concern about telling people about the location of the Hornby Island Bald Eagle nest.

    It is not possible to protect against all nuts but we have located on maps available to the public about 650 bald eagle nests along the east side of Vancouver Is. I have another 154 nesting pairs in the city of Greater Vancouver and another 200+ pairs of eagles nesting in the Fraser Valley adjacent to Vancouver. There about 100,000 pairs nesting along the British Colubia and Alaska coast.

    If you drive around Vancouver BC city even the casual visitor cannot miss seeing many nesting pairs. I have dubbed Vancouver the Urban Eagle Capital of the World. The nearby Brackendale - Squamish area (on the way to Whistler BC -- home of the 2010 Olympics) claims the title Eagle Capital of the World -- but that is just because they get 2500 to 4000 birds sitting around their village eating spawned out salmon during the winter. Who wears the crown furing nesting season is the issue!!! Our eagles in Vancouver are all nesting! --- not just scavenging fish!!

    Eagles are beautiful, majestic and an important element to our ecosystem. This Live Eagle Cam is an intimate & incredibly unique look at nesting -- but eagles are everywhere here. Just come to British Columia or travel the Inside Passage and you will be able to see many many eagles for yourself. We treasue every nest most certainly but anyone coming here sees many.

    Having spent 53 years studying them I am still so incredibly impressed with this awesome bird. I am glad you share my concern for this bird which shares our coast with Orcas and great quantities of bears and seabirds.

    Please enjoy the site and the eagles and don't worry. Well, actually worry about the big picture of pollution and destruction of the environment. That is what will destroy the eagles, the whales, the bears and our treasured wildness.

    Regards and thanks

    David Hancock
    Eagle Biologist.


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