FROM DAVID HANCOCK:
The Lafarge Nest Cam Update for 2012- 2013
Sept. 4, 2012 - The update went very smoothly. Adam from Lafarge expertly manipulated the man-lift and one of my employees came to assist in the placement of the cam. It was a great sunny day and as hoped no bald eagles were present. On the other hand we were barely up the tree and we heard the flock of nearby gulls give a predator alarm call -- I was certain it was not their eagle alarm call. Sure enough within seconds a juvenile peregrine falcon carrying "something in its talons" and pursued by 20 gulls landed on the rocks directly below us in the nest tree. Immediately the pluming began. The feathers appeared to be that of a pigeon. It ate, we went to work.
First we removed last year's cam that did not function. The nest site was discouraging. The set of cam cables and every branch supporting the good sized nest were in shambles. The adults, mainly the male, has annually been observed stripping the covering off every bit of wire insulation and every bit of bark off every limb within reach. In fact each nearby perch was also totally stripped of the cambium layer. The ground observers had suspected that the bark stripping was killing the tree and it surely has. Every branch that could be reached by the male had been peeled clean. Of course with the cambium layer stripped away the tree has lost its supply of nutrients and water and those branches were dead. This tree is a cottonwood and they unfortunately rot into pulp in very few years -- even a 4 -6 inch diameter branch.
As we have seen in the past some eagles seem to abandon what we thought of as "good nests" only to show us they knew better when their nest fell out the tree before that next year was completed. In the meantime that pair of eagles had built another nest nearby knowing that something about the tree was insecure -- something we had not understood until the nest fell. My fear is that this nest is about to suffer abandonment by the adults. My guess is that they will assess, on their return from their northern migration, the nest tree strength as inadequate. Time will tell. In the meantime we have installed a fine PTZ cam that Ken has already set up the ground communications and microwave across the cement plant, tested it, and today it is working wonderfully.
While I hope the eagles' assessment of the nest strength is correct, we have, as many of you know, already installed an artificial platform adjacent to the nest tree. This platform was invested in by Lafarge, at my recommendation, as an insurance policy for the day their original nest fell or blew down. I think we are approaching the due date on the insurance policy! While we only have cams pointing at the old nest, it is possible that this old structure will endure another year as it is located in the central part of the tree as opposed to on an unsupported side limb. This territory has been so productive I don't think these breeders will abandon the nest unless it fully collapses. We will remain optimistic.
Comment on the new cam: This is a new 20 x HD PTZ and will, if the birds return, give us incredible views and close-ups of the nest and the pair's activities. As ground and keen cam observer, Sharon, repeatedly points out, this pair exhibit "intense" interactions and almost nightly use the nest for roosting. Because of the intense activity around the Vancouver Harbor and all the artificial lights on or guarding all the buildings, we don't even have to install infrared lights -- the ambient light from all the security lights enables us to view the eagles 24/7. The harbor and the nearby nesting peregrine falcons provide a constant and plentiful food supply to nearly annually producing 3 young. From the cam we also look down on a nearby rocky intertidal beach frequented by Canada geese and various waterfowl. Let's hope the nest holds together another year.
Thanks, Lafarge, for saving these eagles and the little chunk of waterfront wilderness in the center of one of the world's busiest harbors.
Site Sponsorship: This nest is largely funded by Lafarge Cement, 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.
Hancock Wildlife Foundation