There is little food around for bald eagles this year, and they are getting desperate
By Kim Pemberton, Vancouver SunFebruary 24, 2011
Starving bald eagles, desperate to find food after a failed southern B.C. chum salmon run, are gathering in record numbers at the Vancouver landfill, says eagle expert David Hancock.
The wildlife biologist earlier this month counted nearly 1,400 eagles -triple the usual number at this time of year -at one time at the landfill, located in Delta.
"The chum salmon didn't come in and with no other major concentration of food they are gathering everywhere and many are starving," said Hancock.
He said a world record was set in mid-December when 7,200 eagles were spotted on the Chehalis River, which flows into the Harrison River. Hancock said that 10 days after the raptors finished feeding off salmon carcasses, only 345 eagles were spotted on the river.
"They had to go somewhere. They're incredibly mobile -can move 500 to 1,000 miles a day. They're forced to go where they can find food."
He said young eagles are essentially scavengers because it takes them two to three years to learn how to hunt. Many rely on dead salmon and swarming masses of herring.
"To catch a specific fish or duck, that comes later, and is a developed skill."