The Story of the PMV (Port Metro Vancouver) Esplanade Eagles

The development of the North Shore Harbor, known as the Lower Road & Spirit Trail Development, has been the home of a pair of territorial bald eagles for at least 5 years. The pair reportedly tried twice to nest on an old crane that is slated for re-building - this did not work. Then in the spring of 2011 they built a nest in a cottonwood tree above the Esplanade road but did not succeed in raising young in 2011. Reported during the winter of 2011, much of the nest blew down. Then they again came back in the fall of 2011 and were seen on their favorite cranes beside the water’s edge and occasionally in or near the nest tree. Then I was about to get involved!

The Port Metro Vancouver, in cooperation with the City of North Vancouver, proposed and received a development permit for the site. This is quite a large and controversial development involving a lot of the shoreline, railroads, street roads and a huge waterfront walkway for pedestrians. The existing nest tree was within this development and a permit had been issued to remove the entire grove of trees and the sidewalk. The Ministry of Environment made the permit to remove the nest contingent upon the Port to provide 3 “bald eagle nest improvements” in place of the removed nest tree. At this point, I was contacted to give advice on the improvements.

With their Permit to remove in hand my position was to do what I could for the eagles. All too often, no matter how much protesting I did, all I ever witnessed was the loss of an eagles nest - never never never any replacement! This project offered something back for the eagles - and we who loved the eagles - so I quickly set about reviewing my eagle nest history along the North Shore. I also immediately called upon David Cook, a local resident and North Shore eagle documenter. Deciding on how to help the eagles along one of the most food productive shorelines for eagles was not difficult. This shoreline historically would have been lined with great trees offering many eagle nesting opportunities. Most of the shoreline trees have been replaced by docks, terminals and cranes — with few places offering nesting opportunities along the shoreline.

The challenge was simple. Could we locate within existing bald eagle territories, particularly in those territories with no or poor nesting opportunities, a place we would be allowed to place a pole and nest. We, the Davids, believe we have. In fact we have had two sites we think are incredible for eagles already approved.

The first site is the same distance from the removed nest as it is to the crane site but to the east, right on the foreshore on the east side of the Seaspan terminals. At one stage of my life I too lived just a little farther east along the shoreline in a fine floating home that a previous wife and I had built -- so I very much appreciate this real estate and how important it is to eagles and a lot of other wildlife. I envy them their view.
So the attached images, probably supplemented with those of some of the supporters who attended the nest rising, show the original crane that the eagles had attempted to nest in, the taken down Esplanade nest, and the erection of the new pole and nest.

Hopefully even this late in the year the nest pole will attract some inquisitive eagles and maybe even get lived in by next year. I am hoping our web cam supporters will keep us updated. In the meantime we are working on getting the next nest ready and honing down the third site for some kind of improvement. I wish to thank the Ministry of Environment and Port Metro Vancouver for positively proposing and acting on this bald eagle mitigation -- it is a real “first class” first!

David Hancock


Introductory video to the PMV Esplanade Eagles slide show.

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