FROM DAVID HANCOCK:
(Written 2/14/11 at 1:27 a.m. PST)
As most of you know our Sidney pair have run into some human environmental contaminants -- life threatening fishing line.
A few days ago Pa seemed to have some feather constrictions around his neck. Some observers thought this might be caused by strands of fish line. At the same time clear, red and green fish lines were apparently draped across the nest in clear view of the cam. These types of hazards can be lethal and the lines in the Sidney nest are therefore of great concern.
Many of you will have seen images from osprey nests where the young and adults have been lethally but accidentally strangled or tangled. I have refused to put a cam in a Vancouver Harbor nest that is largely composed of fish lines, net strands and miscellaneous ropes. The risk of having to witness such a death is not comforting. Hence my concerns here.
Harry and others are watching the pair and Harry has taken a fine series of still shots that show the riffled neck feathers. I am hoping that some videos taken away from the nest will give us a better indication of any incapacity or reduced health. Nest activities should also be closely monitored. What we are looking for is unnatural behavior, movements that imply the bird is actually incapacitated.
The eagles have lots of hardships thrown their way and only some times can we effectively intervene. I have suggested that our Victoria team establish a fixed place for offering some fish scraps. If the male is having difficulty catching food he will quickly accept these easy offerings -- something these scavengers readily do naturally.
This would enable videos to show the bird's behavior effectively and enable us to evaluate the bird's movements. With so many possibly watching a potential danger grip a bird we all love and admire, it is very easy to get into a rut of seeing "who can sound most concerned and profess the greatest love for the bird". Pretty soon we get demands for actions that are passion driven but not rooted in practical options. I want to explore the practical options effectively.
Our approach at this point should focus on:
A. I will be in touch with key people speaking directly to me.
Harry or Van Island observers to call me with any details and send me direct links to me and Karen. I want direct comments on Pa's activities and if you can organize the feeding station below.
1) Everybody: get the best stills and hopefully videos, nest cams and shots from away from the nest for evaluation.
a. If Karen would please collect all still and video cams that are relevant and pass these along to me.
b. Could Ian please re-focus any pertinent comments on to me.
c. Other key players and our Admins can contact me but concerned outsiders should pass along through to Karen, my project coordinator, so I am not over ridden with calls - firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Can the Island group give me some feedback on setting up a food offering site near the nest -- probably a slightly remote part of the beach not too visible. This site would give us both a site to evaluate the bird and possibly set up a trapping site to collect the bird if that proved desirable.
Concerns: getting some additional personal and video observations to see accurately the bird's responses to any activities that can be taped. Starting with a feeding station is a good and very natural option. The fish processing plants will likely donate a stream of carcasses. Roadkills are an additional support. The euthanized bunnies of the University would be a good food source along with road kills.
We have a couple of feeding stations presently going on in the valley where the farmers place dead cows dying at giving birth. The eagles need this right now.
This a good start and I will talk with Maj and WildArc on the Island re trapping and possibilities of having to hold for rehab. I recently paid a biologist to come here to view our developing web program and he was telling me of his eagle traps. In fact I will be working with him in early March in Washington State. I just called him. He is qualified to band in Canada, he thinks, and he is available to come up but it costs about $500 per day with all the equipment so we might need to raise a few dollars.
So the plan is in place - let's hope for the best options to emerge. Maybe all will clear up naturally as usually happens -- but we must be prepared.