Delta 1 is Finally Here.

Delta 1 - Eagle Nest
May 9 -- 2008. Today I got to see on the web for the first time the nesting pair of bald eagles we are calling Delta 1. This has been the better part of two years coming. The story is quite exceptional and I will outline some of it here -- the eve of my departure to Alaska. Thanks to Ken and Richard for getting this on-line. Also thanks to Delta Cable for their fine assistance and donation of this outgoing connection to our servers.


What an exciting triumph. This nest territory has the most incredible history covering 8 nests that I know of in as many years and what was one eagle territory has now been divided into two separate territories -- both with nesting adults with young.

This site, first known as Nest 6, was only successful in 1998 -- the year before I spotted it. Then in 1999, 2000 and subsequently the site was not used. The territorial pair moved 1/4 mile south and mounted 4 more nests in one year. The first 3 fell down during construction but the birds were successful in building a 4th nest and raising two young in it -- fledging them in September. This ordeal is partly why I cling to some hope for other late nesting birds -- they do sometimes succeed. That fall that nest blew down on a day between 0720 and 1000 -- between two trips I made past the tree during a great storm that morning..

Then this pair became our first pair to nest in a high tension power pole -- and successfully raise young. They are the pioneering pair that have been followed by a whole culturally adapted group of "artificial nest users" that are opening up the way for further invasion of the urban environment where humans have destroyed the natural nesting trees.

The Nest territory 'now' defined as Delta 1 has a most trusted landowner, Frank, a farmer who not only cares for these birds but who, from his vantage point of daily working his farm, has watched, with incredible detail, the 10 year antics of this pair and from whom I have been able to get much additional observational support. Interestingly, in a walk out through his back pastures he pointed out 7 different current nesting territories that can be seen. This is indeed the flat Delta area and trees can be seen for miles around -- in this case he can see 7 active nests spread over a few square miles. I know of all these nests but I had never seen all from one vantage point before.

Let's jump to 2006. This was the year of Hornby and Sidney history. We had rocked the world's conscience with Doug Carrick's Hornby pair's traumatic "non-hatch" followed by the successful fledging of Vic and Sid from the Sidney nest. But I was planning on several more cams for 2007. This meant that I had to place the cams in nests during the eagles' absence during August or early September. When I had discussions with our BC Hydro management about the 3 pairs now nesting in their High Tension Power poles, I was informed that they would not allow this to continue. They planned, as soon as the chicks were fledged and abandoned the sites, to place barriers around the nest area to prevent eagle access and nesting.

This meant one thing. Two of the "High Tension Pole Nesters" would likely go back to their two adjacent tree nests. They really had no alternative. This Delta area is almost devoid of trees suitable of supporting a large eagle nest. We then decided this was the perfect opportunity to camerize these two nests. We placed both a wide angle and a PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) camera in both nests -- and optimistically awaited the spring 2007 breeding season.

Then the storms of the 2006-07 winter struck. All Hydro crews put in double time fighting emergencies. I was told there was simply no manpower available to now spend additional time "fencing out" eagles.

The result -- our two well camerized nests were of course not used. The two High Tension Power poles were reused -- along with two more adjacent towers by additional pairs. The eagle condos were sprouting up in the Delta! We of course were very disappointed to not be able to bring you these nesting eagles. Such is life.

The nesting success of the whole 'cult' of pole nesters has been dramatic. Some nests stay hanging across the high steel girders of the poles -- others, lacking adequate support for the key first placed nest sticks, have fallen during the nesting season. Sometimes we lost eggs, sometimes the chicks died. But also these artificial nests have been very successful and most have produced 2 young per year. We are definitely producing a 'cult' of urban pole nesters.

The 2007 nesting season progressed with the pole pair to the south, known to me as Nest 86, who was the earliest pair in the region to nest. They hatched their eggs on my birthday April 1 -- and I am not fooling.

In early February another adult pair showed up and built an new nest north and west of pair 86. But their new nest was less than 100 feet from major construction and they became weekend builders -- when the carpenters left the house construction. By early April, just after the young in Nest 86 had hatched, this new pair moved a mile west and took up residence in the other pair's old nest. Now how do I now know this nest belonged to Pair 86? Well on 3 occasions I have seen one of the 86 pair using this old nest as a feeding platform - depart it and go straight to their new high tension pole nest.

This 86 pair seemed to be tolerating the new pair taking over their old nest. This acceptance went on for nearly 3 weeks. I made a few comments on the site about "hopes for a new nest" -- but after 18 days of sitting and possibly incubating eggs, the pair departed the nest and were not seen back that season. The 86 pair succeeded in raising 2 young but the new pair was not successful.

Now the fall of 2007 -- this new pair again took up their new nest beside the huge house still under construction. But then about mid March they started visiting the old nest #6 -- the food perch and original nest of pair #86. This continued later into April and by late April I was again building up hopes from weekly and then nearly daily visits to check the progress. By the first of May I asked Ken to check out the CAMs. Were they still functional after 20 months? Or would they not work? Ken tested them and they both produced good signals through "clean lens". Wonderful. Would this be the replacement for the let down at Sidney or the delayed efforts at Hornby? When I visited the site again with Ken Tuesday, May 6, we saw a day old chick and an egg. Wow!!

I had arranged for Delta Cable, the local Cable TV provider, to drop us a special high-speed line for sending out the signal. When on Thursday the Delta Cable gentleman connected the line to our encoder, I could instantly see the proud look on Ken's face. The female stood up to reposition herself and there were now two chicks. A double wow.

Richard was then being delivered the signal and today he called me to announce the birds could be seen on the site. By tomorrow he hopes to have the site fully running on both Neokast and Media Player. And here we go again. We hope. I write this as the witching hour approaches and I get ready to pack for our departure to Alaska. Then Richard will post it to the Insinc. I wish you all good observations -- you have all stuck in there so faithfully. I thank you and I wish our new parents and their little offspring a good fortune in a world we have so disrupted.

Later I will try and explain why Nest #6 owners now occupy Nest #86 and now this nest has been relabeled Nest #86.5. I say later since it is too confusing for this late in the evening.


David Hancock.


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