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Annual Migration

Bald Eagle Biology

The Annual Movements and Migration of Bald Eagles -- a Quick Overview

Some researchers don't consider all bald eagle populations as migratory. Some of the eastern populations, and maybe a few others, basically disperse north after the breeding season, probably an effective way to abandon the fledglings and have them head out on their own.  Then, almost immediately, the birds seem to randomly move about and then move back into their breeding territory.  Other eastern populations seem to more traditionally move north and south or south and then back north -- depending upon the population and the historic availability of foods.

On the west coast, the real home of the bald eagle!!!, at least in the sense of the dominant numbers, the bald eagle spends at least 6 months living off dead salmon.  On the southern west coast of Vancouver Island, the relatively wilderness living eagles, those not associated more recently with urban living, have a seasonal movement pattern very directly associated with the availability of dead salmon.  This pattern has likely paralleled the retreat of the glaciers so that the southern nesting eagles have to go continuously farther and farther north to adjust to the earlier spawning salmon. 

The almost complete inability of young eagles, at least juveniles of the first year, to catch live prey makes them totally dependent upon finding spawned out salmon.  Sure a few will find road kills, beached fish or seal carcasses, but the reliable food source is associated with salmon spawns. For the vast majority of our southern eagles this may mean a flight of 500 to 1200 miles to find the first reliable meal.  For the more northern eagles the fledging season more closely parallels the local spawning of salmon and the eagles can scavenge the carcasses often in their own nesting valley.

With the melting of the glaciers and the penetration of spawning salmon into the more northern rivers, the southern eagles have farther to find that first meal.  It is my hypothesis that the huge wide and long wings of the young eagles is to facilitate that long flight to the first scavengable meal. Then as the north freezes up in the late, and sometimes early, fall, the carcasses are either all eaten up or frozen under the frozen rivers. The mass emigration of eagles leaves these northern rivers for the milder and still thawed southern rivers.  Here in southern British Columbia we historically had the latest runs of salmon and consequently offered the season's latest feeding bonanza.

While a few of the northern rivers have spawned out carcasses as early as July and August, our southern rivers don't develop meaningful quantities of carcasses until early to late fall.  The eagles dependable movements, quite reasonably defined as an annual migration, is driven by first the dates of salmon carcass availability, it is also driven by the opportunistic nature of the bald eagle.  If other food sources are available they will be utilizing it.

This opportunism takes advantage of rangeland winter kills, road kills and garbage dumps -- particularly those associated with fish processing plant discards. 

On top of this many eagles along the west coast, particularly the none nesting birds, at least those not fixed to their nesting territories too far distant, can utilize the other incredible west coast phenomena - the herring and oolachican spawns.  Again, hundreds of tons of these little fish are available to the gatherings of gulls and eagles in March and April -- the otherwise difficult times for inexperienced hunters and fisherman -- the first and second year eagles.  The eagles' biology and breeding cycle, not maturing until the fifth year, and often not entering the breeding population until the sixth year, suggests it takes that long for sufficient experience to have accrued for eagles to be able to effectively hunt a small territory near a nest and support themselves and their young.  Likely this huge time investment before breeding is that it takes that long to guarantee to develop sufficient hunting and fishing skills to support staying in a small area -- the area that must provide nearby food that can be transported up to a nest for adults and young.

Where the bald eagle reigns supreme, our west coast, their survival is closely tied to the historic migration patterns of the salmon.  If our salmon go so do our eagles -- our orcas -- and us.  And at the rate at which we humans despoil habitat and polute our oceans, the question is not the validity of that statement, but when.

David Hancock

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2 bald eagles fledge in Vt.

Wildlife News


Article published Jul 30, 2009
2 bald eagles fledge in Vt.
Last year, Vermont had just one. This year, Vermont saw two successful bald eagle nesting sites, with two eagles hatching, fledgling and taking to flight.

It was the most successful fledging in Vermont since the 1940s.

One bird fledged from a nest in Concord — in what was a repeat of a successful nesting one year ago — and another bald eagle fledged from a nest in Barnet, according to Paul Hamelin, a biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Both birds fledged and took to flight last week, Hamelin said. It followed by one year the first successful fledgling of a bald eagle in Vermont in some 60 years.

"Now we have two successful hatchings, two eagles," he said. "We've doubled our nesting population. It says we're on the right track to recovery and, hopefully, a robust eagle population in Vermont."


Read the rest of the story here:


2 Bald Eagles Fledge in Vermont

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Golden Eagle Survives Head-On With Semi

Wildlife News

Interstate 80, mile marker 180, was the scene of a head-on collision between a semi truck and a male golden eagle Tuesday morning (Aug 4, 2009). The driver of the semi was surprised, to say the least, when his driver’s side windshield caved in on his lap and the large eagle fell to the floor of his cab.

All the commotion inside the cab caused the driver to swerve into an adjacent lane forcing another vehicle into the median. Thankfully no injuries occurred to any of the people involved. In spite of hitting the truck moving at a speed of 70 MPH the eagle was found by Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) standing in the back bunk area of the truck.


Read the rest of the story here:

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Power - the Key to Remote Viewing

Chehalis River + Eagle Point

One of the many problems associated with bringing you the live streaming video of our wildlife projects is power. Power is the key to doing many things in the field and we've stretched several technologies to the breaking point in our efforts to bring you more and better video, audio and wildlife experiences.

To illustrate, the Chehalis Estuary/Eagle Point project has been on our books for 3 years now. David first conceived of this for the 2007 Fall season, and we invested in some solar panels and batteries to test things out with the view to putting a camera and wireless link out on the flats to watch the eagles feed.

I had this solar setup in my backyard for the summer of 2007, running completely autonomously and feeding me video 24 hours/day - albeit mostly of small birds bathing in my stream and fish swimming in the pond. I guess I should have pushed this out to the net but it really didn't fit in with our "wildlife" theme :)

But, and this is a big one, even with almost full summer sun, the system could not keep up with running all night on the batteries and coping with the several days duration cloudy periods - and this with more daylight hours than night! Running the setup in the Fall/Winter with far more night than day and far darker and more frequent cloudy days simply would not do. We had to come up with something else. We conceived of running some sort of remote control to turn things off at night but one of the reasons we wanted the camera on was that there are interesting things happening at night that nobody has seen before so to lose that opportunity would be a real waste.

More solar panels was an option - but in doing the calculations we realized we'd need almost $10,000 worth to do what needed to be done - not an option.
This year we have had a massive battery farm donated to us - they're used, but they're in remarkably good condition. So we proceeded to figure out just how we could use this - how often we'd have to recharge them and how, using "conventional" motor-generator facilities. I found a vendor for a fairly inexpensive propane-powered generator, and we have this all in hand. The only problem is getting the generator to fire up remotely (it has electric start but no other controls) and remotely monitor the batteries for charge condition, etc. We figured that about 6-8 propane cylinders would do for a couple of months, and that visiting the site once or twice during the season would not bother the birds much since there are hunters and fishermen not that far away at times anyway. All this is good, but not really what I had hoped. I've been looking for and wondering aloud to any and everyone I meet about a smaller generator that we could run more frequently and that was integrated with battery charger and such. You see, there are far more applications out there for such a thing than just our projects. The donor of the batteries has used them in one such facility for the past 25 years - remote monitoring and radio facilities - and many others have similar needs.

But it turns out there is a different solution - and it's brand new...

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Heading for Newsletter 11
Hancock Eagle Cam News


Hornby Island Eagle Cam

Hornby Island Eagle nest laid 2 eggs this season! The first (Hope) hatched on April 27th. The second (Echo) hatched on April 30th. Both chicks were thriving. On May 11th, Echo somehow got stuck to mom under her tail feathers. She tried for approximately an hour to get him unstuck and then flew off. He was found dead at the base of the tree by Doug Carrick. Doug gave him a beautiful burial location in his garden. Hope continues to do very well! She was 12 weeks old on July 20th and fledged on July 21st.

Echo Memory by Diana Zabunyan
Echo Memory by Diana Zabunyan
Picture of Hope taken by birdofprey
Picture of Hope



Sidney Nest

There were 3 eaglets again this year. Last year this pair successfully raised 3 chicks and have done so again this year! Breeze hatched on April 8th and successfully fledged on June 27th. Hero hatched on April 10 and successfully fledged on July 7th. Tiny Tink hatched on April 14th. As Tiny Tink was almost a week later than the first sibling, it was questionable in the early days as to whether he would survive and very painful to watch the bullying on the cam, but he learned very quickly to outsmart his older siblings for food in spite of the difference in their sizes. Tiny Tink involuntarily fledged on July 4th when he was accidentally bumped off the nest by Hero. Although he had been spotted by ground crews, it was 9 days before he made it back to a nest (old nest) for cam viewers to see for themselves that he was doing well. (Below is new eaglets, and fledglings at old nest on July 14th)

Sidney eaglets as babies
captured by lovethebabies
All three Sidney fledglings, July 14
captured by lovethebabies


Delta 1 Nest

Delta 1 nest was a surprise to everyone this year. Last year the nest crumbled under the weight of the 2 eaglets exercising their wings. It was unexpected that this young pair would use this nest this year but they did, without the necessary restorations to the nest. They had 2 chicks. First chick hatched May 11th and the second (Bandit) hatched May 13th. There was instant concern for the eaglets as the nest was so small. During the night on June 3rd, the oldest eaglet fell off the nest and died. Following that sad occasion, David Hancock created a safety net which he and Karen Bills installed around the base of the tree to catch Bandit if he fell. Fortunately, it was not needed and was removed on Saturday, July 11th by David and Karen. Bandit continues to do well on this small nest! He has learned to balance himself well and continues to exercise his wings. Thank you to Bev at O.W.L. for watching over this nest and being prepared for a rescue of Bandit if necessary!

Delta 1 by Eiguoc
captured by Eiguoc on June 2nd
Delta 1 July 28 by lovethebabies
Captured by lovethebabies on July 28th



Delta O.W.L. Nest

Our Delta O.W.L. Cam is presently off-line. There are 2 cams for this nest. The close-up cam is infra-red! This was the first year of breeding for this young pair and their two eggs did not hatch. They were amazing parents and vigilantly sat on the eggs long past the expected hatch dates. We hope to see them back next year!

Delta OWL by Janner
captured by janner

Delta OWL by lovethebabies
captured by lovethebabies
Delta OWL by lovethebabies - night cam
captured by lovethebabies
Delta OWL by terrytvgal
captured by terrytvgal


FledgeFest 2009 July 8th at Sidney Nest


Comments from David Hancock on FledgeFest:


A big thank you to all who took part in organizing this great event! Terry Baker, thanks for all your hard work in pulling together another successful FledgeFest! FledgeFest took place on Wednesday, July 8th at the Sidney nest. The home base and lunch venue was Holy Trinity Anglican Church in North Saanich. This church overlooks Patricia Bay and Saanich Inlet. It is the oldest church in North Saanich. Lunch was a selection of Safeway Select Cafe' Sandwiches, potato salad, fresh veggies, fresh fruit, bottled water/soft drinks. Safeway did not charge for the “tools of feasting” as David called them – utensils, plates, etc.

Weather wasn't great but didn't stop eagle fans from enjoying the day and having a chance to meet people, putting faces to the names on the forums.


People who attended:

David Hancock, Surrey, BC

karenb (Karen Bills), Langley, BC

Helen55 of Victoria, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Sunshinecoast, Davis Bay, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Edkeagle (Ed/Pat), Blaine, WA

Mr. & Mrs. Lantz_56 (Richard C/Alice and daughter), Lantzville, BC

Arbutus (Jo), Sidney, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Elle (Ian/Lynda), Victoria, BC

Patricia, Brentwood Bay, BC

sassyk (Kay), Victoria, BC

EnthralledInVic (Sheri), Victoria, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Parrotlady1 (Cathy), Yorba Linda,CA

Mr. & Mr. Terrytvgal (Alan/Terry Baker), Coquitlam, BC

CEIT (Catherine Drever), Victoria, BC

Gemini (Sharon), North Vancouver, BC

bluejay111 (Linda), Langford, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Ceilidh (Dennis/Barbara), Qualicum Beach, BC

jammy (Barb), Cobble Hill, BC

John Simpson, Campbell River, BC

sidneyboy (Doug), Sidney, BC

Mr. & Mrs. Humanity (Bill/Christine), Langford, BC

Malibou (Shirley), Victoria, BC

PacNorWest (Doug), Bellingham, BC

Beej, Nanaimo, BC

Whalleyworld (Brenda), Surrey, BC

dar (Darlene Collins), Victoria, BC

Wendy Klassen, Surrey, BC

George Gould, Surrey, BC

Mary & Laurie Trusty, Surrey, BC

Elaingrace (Elaine Kallal), Nanaimo, BC

pucksma (Sally), Gonzales Bay, Victoria, BC

Carmie, Victoria, BC

sandra gee (Sandra), Nanaimo, BC

Grace Mariager, Sidney, BC

Peter & Karen Saunders

Swissy (Nancy) and daughters (Corina/Natalie), Victoria, BC

Cora Anne, Sidney, BC

Frog_Barf (Rodger), Victoria, BC

Harrymilt (Harry-ace photographer), Victoria, BC

Link to Harry's video of FledgFest:


Link to Pastrudel's website to see more pictures:


We invite you to view comments and other pictures at the FledgeFest 2009 Forum:


Ma Sidney by Pastrudel

some of the group by Pastrudel

by sandra gee
 Sidney Ma by harrymilt
Ma Sidney by Harry


Wendy Klassen's Painting Daily Quotes



Fundraising for Fiscal Year, June 2008 – June 2009


Funds raised for 2008/09 Fiscal year was $22,831.51. Thank you everyone for your generous contributions!





Fundraising Needs for 2009/2010

Education and Research


Bald Eagle Annual Clean-up, Refit & Re-store Project:


Our CAM projects are presently in urgent need of funding for the annual clean-up, re-fit and re-store. We have a window for this work, when the adult eagles have left on migration and before they return in October. This is an annual event and we will be listing this Project that way. Your contribution is a way of saying thanks for keeping the CAMS going!


  1. Two Sidney Nests: Each of the Sidney nests must be accessed with a 130 lift/bucket and all 3 cams cleaned — and you know what of!!!! Then we want to replace one of the wide angle cams with an Infra-Red camera so we can see what happens at night. We will also have to re-run about 600 feet of underground wiring, add in another encoder and have both Richard and Ken come over to Vancouver Island to assist David with the electronics. This kind of project, if we can do it in one day – partly weather dependent: $5000.00

  2. The Hornby Island Nest: will again require considerable attention and a couple of trips by Richard and/or Ken: $2000.00 
    Doug has his friend climb the nest and clear the lens. HWF is then responsible for the electronics and transmission.

  3. Delta 1 Nest: needs a new cam, a new encoder and considerable time up a lift and with Ken checking and proofing all connections costs are approximately: $3000.00

  4. Delta O.W.L. Nest: we will need two encoders (last year we borrowed Delta 1 encoders) so this will entail clean-up and electronic double checking: $4000.00

  5. Quilchena Nests: we have a cam in one nest but need to redo it and purchase a second cam, 2 encoders and transceivers: $6000.00
    This nest lost its female due to a fight with a neighbor and electrocution in 2009. We wish the new pair good luck.

Summary of Cleaning, Repairs and Replacement Costs for 2010 Season:


Sidney Nests (2 nests, 3 cams) $5000.00
Hornby Island Nest (2 cams) $2000.00
Delta 1 Nest (2 cams) $3000.00
Delta O.W.L. Nest (2 cams)  $4000.00
Quilchena Nests (2 nests, 3 cams)

Total $20,000.00



Your donations to assist in this is much appreciated!

Donations: While it is possible for you to request that the sum be allocated to your favorite site, we would like to pool the sums received so that it can be used where most needed!


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Update on Delta 1 Nest:  On July 30th, Bandit fledged prematurely when a limb broke off of the nest tree and startled him.  He has been taken to O.W.L. to build up his strength and practice his flight skills.  Please watch for announcements for his release at:


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