Hancock Forum Newsletter - Issue No 4 ~ October 24, 2007


Issue No 4 ~ October 24, 2007
Editors: Cobbler39/Blue Heaven



The only thing we know for sure about the migration of southern British Columbia Bald Eagles is that they go somewhere for a few weeks every year. The nesting areas are vacated sometime after the young have fledged in August. Because the eagles in this area have not been in the endangered category (protected, yes), funding has not been provided to do costly telemetry studies of the eagle population in B.C. Birds have been banded, but the low incidence of banded birds and reports has resulted in small amounts of scattered information.

After fledging, the young are still dependent on the adults to feed them for a period of up to a couple of months until they gain the experience and skills to find and catch their own food.

The eagles of northern Vancouver Island and further up the coast leave a bit later than the southern Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley eagles but, one thing is certain: the migration includes adults, newly fledged eaglets, and any other non-breeding eagles.

Tracking Bald Eagles

Since 2004, Destination Eagle in the province of Ontario has tracked the journeys of 13 eaglets. These eaglets have traveled extensively but the majority of their time has been spent in the lower Great Lakes basin where they originated. These young birds spend a lot of time in contaminated “hotspots” and suffer a high mortality rate.

The United States has done more extensive telemetry studies of eagle migrations. The birds are fitted with tiny backpacks that hold a lightweight satellite transmitter that beeps every 10 days. In this way, the travels of each bird can be mapped.

The Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group (SCPBRG) at UC Santa Cruz is tracking juvenile bald eagles as they make fast migrations covering thousands of kilometers. The first bird tracked flew some 900 miles in August from its nest at Lake Shasta, in northern California, to the vicinity of the Dean River in central British Columbia. The journey took less than three weeks.

So far, the juveniles they have followed have traveled thousands of kilometers from their birthplaces in California to British Columbia and one to the Great Slave Lake area.

The young eagles forage for dead salmon and learn to hunt for live prey in the late summer and fall. The SCPBRG says these stunning first journeys from the nest are honed by thousands of years of instinct. It is a remarkable coming-of-age quest for food and independence.

Studies of migration routes by tagging wintering bald eagles over several years in cooperation with the California Department of Parks and Recreation at Millerton Lake near Fresno, CA, have shown that virtually all of these eagles migrate to a relatively consistent area within Canada's Northwest Territories, northern Alberta, and Saskatchewan for the summer.

The map below shows a journey which is similar to many others in the study with an adult female traveling north to her breeding ground at Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. The eagles' return journeys are along much the same routes as the northward ones.

image...Backpack image
photo: Journey North 2000

Satellite monitoring of adult eagles in the Skagit River area in Washington State shows a different picture. Their findings document a spring migration (16 February to 5 April, n = 25 movements), and fall migration (8 August and 14 December, n = 5 movements) with the eagles migrating along the coastal corridor from Washington to southeast Alaska, and through interior British Columbia along the Fraser River. Of 20 telemetered eagles, 40% originated from British Columbia, 35% from Alaska, 20% from the Northwest Territories, and 5% from the Yukon Territory.

Radio-telemetry studies of a few Bald Eagles reared in Oklahoma show that they migrate north during the hottest months of the summer to cooler climates such as the Great Lakes area or Canada.

Not all eagles migrate. No one knows how newly fledged eagles know where to go or if some just wander. They usually leave before their parents. It is believed that these are innate (inborn) behaviours. Not all fledglings return to their birthplace.

Eagles ride the thermals (columns of rising air) to high altitudes, then fly long distances at speeds up to 50kph (30mph), soaring on the wind currents until they catch the next thermal and gain altitude again. There can be streams of eagles in the sky, with the birds spread out for many miles.

Where do the eagles of British Columbia go?

This map shows that Bald Eagles are year-round residents of Vancouver Island, the B.C. coast, and southern Alaska.


However, it doesn’t explain where the adult eagles of the Saanich and Hornby Island nests go between fledging and fall nest-building. They don't leave in August to go to the salmon runs because they are back at their nests before the salmon spawn.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society is monitoring 17 nests in Vancouver, B.C. They say that many adults and juveniles move to nearby rivers (and their fish runs) as a stable food source.

Gradually, adult eagles are spotted again towards the end of September. The adults return to nesting areas around the beginning of October, plus or minus one week, to reclaim their nest territory. Mid-October to mid-November is nest-building time. They bring large branches to place around the outside of the nest and smaller branches and material for the inside.

The immature eagles straggle back a bit later. This is winter survival time. Colder weather and shorter days are occupied with getting food. Nest-building stops. They depend mostly on fish during this time but also prey on winter-weakened birds. The Bald Eagles gather at the many streams and river estuaries to feast during the annual salmon spawning in fall and winter.


The only time of year that Bald Eagles are absent from Pacific Northwest areas is August/September. I would like to think that the juveniles have set off on the first great adventure of their lives and that the parents take a well-deserved flying holiday (remember Mom's tattered and weary appearance after Sidney finally fledged). They ride the thermals and touch down to forage for food until instinct tells them it is time to join their partners back at the nest and meet up at the rivers for a salmon feast.
Blue Heaven

read on for the rest of the newsletter...

image I came for the eagles, and stayed for the friends I found ... terrytvgal
imageEach fish is a small work of art. What a wonderful idea it was to install this under water camera. Besides having fun, I am learning a lot trying to identify the fish against the posted charts ... beans on Discussion Chehalis River Estuary


Sidney Nest
A BIG stick was delivered October 13, 11:24am
............SFeeneyOct13 ............BHOct13............ SkipperOct16
Amazing to see the eagle wrestle it in place so that it is curved on the edge of the nest.
Burnaby Eagle Nest
Visit on October 12 ... willpatt


WINGBEATS ... image
Hornby Island
image BH May 29, 2006
Oct 14, 2007, jwnix posted this update from Doug Carrick :
"As you pointed out, the eagles are supposed to return on October 2, but when we arrived back on October 7, we didn't see them in any of the perch trees nor did we see them for the next few days. Then there were brief appearances and finally today for the first time (October 14), one spent a half hour in the Babysitting tree and three hours in the Peters' Tree. However we still haven't seen the two eagles together yet. In other years, they totally ignore the nest until about October 22, so we will see what happens this year."
Goldstream Estuary
Richard says the underwater camera has suffered severe erosion from being in the water for years and is being worked on. The estuary camera has suffered from critters nibbling on it so Bob Chappell is putting in a new wireless system. Richard assures us they will have it up and running soon.
Chehalis Estuary
On October 17, David and Richard went by boat out to the estuary and found high water levels covering the area that David wants to place the cameras. Richard says they may have to use a helicopter to get the equipment out there. See the photos and story by Richard Pitt on.....Wildlife News/A trip to the Chehalis Estuary camera site . They hope to get the cameras in some time next week.

Tip: You can visit Wildlife News anytime by clicking on it at the top of every page.


The Hancock Wildlife Foundation (HWF) has many nest builders and we have learned that an eagle's nest is never done. We have observed the eagles bringing and rearranging sticks all through the seasons, even after fledging. And so the HWF needs nest builders to keep adding strength and support.

MJH . . . Mary Jane Harman imagePhoto: Rich Harman

It is only natural that MJH is at the top of the list of Hancock Wildlife Nest Builders. The Hancock Forum would not be the well-organized and friendly place it is without someone who is so capable of overseeing the ongoing activities. MJH considers it a labor of love to be a volunteer who handles this huge responsibility. David calls her his “Coordinator”. How fortunate he is, and we are, to have her coordinating the Hancock Wildlife Nest.

Some of the things that MJH does:

  • Coordinates the Hancock Eaglet Editors Team (HEET). The book the team wrote is now in the final stages of publication.
  • Coordinates Volunteers who wish to donate time by matching them up with groups where they will be happy, use their talents, and further the goals of HWF.
  • Assists as an Administrator on the HWF Web Sites, mainly to encourage people to write articles for the website and approve articles, as well as approving or denying registrations.
  • As an adviser and messenger on various committees; Fundraising, Observations, Teachers’ Forum, Media Gallery and others. She keeps David and Richard up to date and informed on the important issues and passes information from them to the members as well as getting answers from them for the members. MJH’s opinions help keep these committees focused.
  • MJH is in charge of the Discussion Forum and in charge of the Mod Squad that assists members in following the guidelines and learning. She is the much-loved leader of the Mod Squad and draws the same respect from all members.

MJH says it doesn't feel right to have Site Administrator as the title under her name but prefers Moderator, along with the rest of the Mod Squad.

Her home is in California where she and husband Bill own a small business which they are relocating to Washington. MJH is medically retired from her career in Mass Casualty Emergency Planning and Radiological Emergency Planning. They have two children and three grandsons.

MJH came up to visit David at his home in British Columbia in 2006 and again this past summer of 2007.

imagephoto: Rich Harman
Mary Jane and David at his home, August 19, 2007

Members were thrilled at the opportunity to have a luncheon to honor MJH’s visit at an oceanside restaurant in nearby White Rock on August 22, 2007. The account of this event is in Forum Announcements, on the main Index page ..... 'Lunch Bunch' Meets MJH

It is a testament to her organizational abilities that she has continued all of her responsibilities at HWF while preparing their home to go on the market and making the preparations necessary for a move to Washington in December. It will be wonderful to have her closer to the focus of activities of Hancock Wildlife.

MJH sums up her involvement with HWF this way:
“My dream is for a kinder gentler world and for our children to know the joy and wonderment of experiencing nature and all of God's creatures. I am so honored to be able to be a very small part of this wonderful project and together we will make a difference and our dreams and goals will become a reality.”

Mary Jane is the chief 'nestorator' of the Hancock Wildlife Nest. Not only does she strengthen and organize, she also makes sure sticks are reinforced around the edges and pads the nest bowl with soft grass to make it a warm and comfortable place to be.


Each member of the Hancock Wildlife Forum has a story to tell about how, why, or when they joined. As part of Nest Builders, this column will feature these stories: they are the very essential body of the nest. Many members have already posted their story on.....The Garden Fence Chat/How Did You First Hear About the Eagle Cams? Please take the time to add your story there.

How did MJH get involved and why........

"All of my life, I have had a love and reverence for wildlife and domesticated animals. I have been fortunate with my careers to be able to travel in every state of the U.S. (except Alaska) and through these travels I have always made time to visit wilderness areas to enjoy the wildlife and to listen to nature. What a calming and refreshing experience this has always been. Having a love and reverence though did not satisfy my desire to do something to help but my busy career never seemed to allow me the time to learn what I could do to make a difference. I would lose myself in my paintings, and wildlife has always been my favorite subject. To try to capture the essence of the animal on canvas drives me to keep painting and trying to make every painting look life like.

One day a friend sent a link to me of a Live Cam on an eagles nest. I clicked on the link and couldn't believe what I was seeing... an eagle family with two tiny chicks in a nest. I sat in awe watching this -never in my life did I think I would be able to actually look into a real eagle's nest and watch as they raise their young. What a treasure this is - my first thought was I must somehow thank the people who brought this gift to me. I started looking around the sites and found a discussion forum. I was so afraid to post. I never had been involved with online forums before - but finally I got up the nerve. Of course my very first post I ended up creating a thread instead of replying in one and was fortunate that everyone was kind to me and pointed out the correct way nicely. I read the discussions and slowly started posting and found a nice thread (Positive Posters I think it was called) and there I felt comfortable. I learned this was the second nest and that the Hornby eggs had failed. How very disappointing to all who watched and even though I didn't see the Hornby nest live, by reading all the discussions and viewing the wonderful screen captures, I soon felt as if I knew the Hornby eagles too.

I wanted to show my gratitude but wasn't sure how. I wrote to one of the Moderators and offered to do a painting and donate it but the Moderator wasn't sure what to do with my offer and the weeks went by. Finally I got up the nerve to call David Hancock directly and offer a painting. This phone call began the most wonderful friendship with such a kind and gentle man. He taught me so much about the eagles and about his dreams to protect, conserve and educate the world about the importance of our wildlife and environment. I wanted to help and although I had little knowledge of conservation and our environment, my work as a State Emergency Planner brought some organizational skills that I felt would assist in some of the areas. One thing has led to another and I'm so very pleased to be able to make a little difference that maybe in some small way will further the goals of educating people about the importance of wildlife and our environment."

Mary Jane is a talented wildlife artist.

This lovely sparrow painting is her avatar ... image

More of Mary Jane's work can be seen in her Album in the Hancock Media Gallery and in a thread on the forum for artists to show and discuss their works at.....Creative Discussion/Sharing Visual Arts . Our discussion forum has some very talented and creative members.

__________ image

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