FROM DAVID HANCOCK:
White Rock Nest Update for 2012 - 2013
On August 20 and 23, 2012 we reworked the incredible White Rock nest. As you will recall this pair has raised 2 young for the past 3 years. The 2 incredible HD cams provided by Russ and Ellen have provided great joy and insight into this pair. Some of you will recall that initially this pair nested about 500 meters to the north. However, for 3 years in a row their nesting tree had been removed so more houses could be built in the developing subdivision. At this point Russ and Ellen were nearing completion of their house and asked, "How can we get a pair of eagles to nest in that tree?" I well remember Russ pointing to the tree you have seen used the past 3 years. He then had me advise his arborist on how to 'prune' that tree and how to create a reinforced platform to entice eagles to nest.
Trevor, of Tall Timbers, placed some branches as I suggested -- and wonder of wonders -- the parent eagle returned from the northern migration and immediately took up residence in Russ's chosen tree. They used our foundation on which to build the existing nest. All was well but in retrospect we chose a tree with inadequate strength in the supportive branches. The nest was supported last year with steel rods but this season the ever expanding nest looks like it could be the last. The expanding nest weight takes its toll on little branches. Not only is more material adding to the weight and size but the old branches and nesting remains decay and soak up water greatly increasing the weight needed to be supported. So what to do?
Let me backtrack a moment. This sight along the eastern shore of Boundary Bay is in my estimate the most productive bald eagle habitat in North America. In most shoreline areas of western NA an eagle's nest territory is found about every mile to two miles. Here along Boundary Bay, where there are many trees to support the nests, eagles nest about every half mile -- sometimes closer or a bit farther apart. As some of you know the pair nesting immediately to the south of the White Rock pair had one of their young fly into our White Rock nest and be accepted by the adult male. This is quite unusual and probably not documented before. We know this was a different chick entering the nest because Tina and Christian, who almost daily follow and photograph these birds, know the distinctive juvenile wing patterns of each bird and also because all three juveniles were seen at the nest at the same time!
My point of this comment is that the clump of about 10 fir trees guarded and protected by Russ and Ellen is a rare group of large conifers, Douglas Fir, Balsam Fir and Western Red Cedar and as such will possibly supply a potential nest tree for generations to come. This season we opened up the top of another Balsam so a nest could be located in the 'old broken and filled in crown'. This tree is about 70 feet from the first nest and has thicker supportive branches. Our intent was to offer the eagles another more substantial nest support. Time will tell if we have again guessed it right and our efforts are appreciated by the eagles!
The Bald Eagle Bath is designed, functional and being used by the eagles! Wow - another marvelous happening at the White Rock site. Following Russ's suggestion that he would like eagles to "nest in that tree" -- and we got them to do just that, the next suggestion I made only had Russ lifting one eye-brow. My suggestion was that he should build the first "eagle bath" on his site. Yes, that is a public bathing facility for his eagles. After the single raised eye-brow he said, "Go ahead, David, and give me a design!" I did and before the pond was fully connected to the rest of the garden he was testing it with water and Echo and Foxy, within hours, were testing it for a bath! Absolutely wonderful. Christian was on hand getting some of the final shots of the two young bathing before they migrated north.
These couple of shots of Echo and Foxy enjoying the bath are also from Christian's new book, "The White Rock Eaglets", just about ready for the press, that he is producing for our Foundation as a fund raiser. For those of you wanting for yourself or for friends or businesses a lasting memorable Christmas gift -- go to www.hancockwildlife.org and order some copies. Thanks, Christian for the incredible intimate views of our White Rock family and to Tina and Rosana for coordinating, writing and designing the project. I even got the honor of writing the foreword!
During the selection of images for Christian's beautiful book -- that small task meant cutting down the 20,000 images to just under a 100 -- some interesting insights of Tina and Christian came to light. In particular Tina says she can instantly tell each of the two adults and their young by their unique wing patterns. I said show me! They did. Ma has two primaries with breaks in the veins, breaks you would expect to be repaired at the first preening. But these breaks have remained all season -- and more interestingly, all last year. Then, would you believe, one of the juveniles has the same marks. To make this more interesting, a juvie in last year's plumage, that is tolerated around the nest and on the beach below, also has these imperfections in the same feathers. Have our keen observers picked up some genetic imperfection? Time will tell but it is an interesting option. This is not quite as apparent as the numbered patagial wing markers but does give us some positive identification of individual eagles.
It is the old story. As my Asian friend used to say, "All Whites look alike!" Of course the differences are in the detail and since we have been running these cameras it is awesome how so many of our viewers have been able to "identify details" in so many of our nesting birds. To play on another old saying, "Familiarity breeds detail!"
Again to Russ and Ellen -- thanks for sharing and looking after our White Rock eagle family and their environment.
Site Sponsorship: This nest is largely funded by Russ and Ellen, with Shaw Cable now supporting the outbound bandwidth and you viewers funding the frequent updates by Ken and Mike that keep it all going. Thanks again.