Friday, June 13 2008 @ 12:59 PM EDT
Contributed by: jwnix
Urban eagles June 12, 2008
It’s not uncommon for eagles to go for years without producing any young, such is the case for eagle pairs in Victoria and Esquimalt. File photo
While Victoria and Esquimalt have a single bald eagle nest each, neither mating pair that inhabit the nests have successfully reproduced since 2004.
There are many reasons why the birds, who share a nest with their life-long mate, wouldn’t have any eggs hatch. They might be too old or under nourished. Or there may be some human-made factor, such as pesticides damaging their eggs or nest disturbances.
Gwen Greenwood, volunteer coordinator for the Wildlife Trees Stewardship Program, said somebody would have to monitoring the nests quite closely to know the exact reason they haven’t been productive, and they’d rather not disturb the birds.
It’s not uncommon for eagles to go years without successful young, even when the eggs do hatch. Only 10 per cent of eaglets live past their first year.
There are plenty of eagles with babies in other municipalities, as the young chirp from three nests in Oak Bay and five in Saanich.
Greenwood said a lack of appropriate nesting trees is the reason the birds aren’t more common in Victoria and Esquimalt.
The current nests are in Beacon Hill Park and Saxe Point Park. Eagles are very territorial of their large hunting range, which stops several birds from building their 2,000 pound nests in the same area.
The birds are opportunistic carnivores, they eat fish and rodents, including rabbits and rats. They’ll also eat smaller birds, such as seagulls. Last summer the Beacon Hill Park eagles caused a stir when they attacked blue heron nests. Otherwise, they don’t cause much problem.
“They adapt pretty well to an urban setting,” explained Greenwood, who has been researching eagles in southern B.C. for eight years on behalf of the organization that helps protect eagle habitat.
When there isn’t enough hunting or nesting room for the birds or when human activity causes they to move, they will often fight over areas, sometimes to the death.
Wild ARC, a rehabilitation centre for wild animals run by the SPCA, aids injured eagles. In addition to helping birds that were injured fighting, the centre rescues eagles that have flown into buildings or towers, as well young birds that fall from trees.