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2007 Winding Down - Looking Forward to 2008 as the cycle continues

Wildlife News
Skye fledged this past week and is spending less and less time in the Sidney nest. The eagle cam season is winding down for 2007 but don't go away, there are lots of things still ongoing and more to come.

The whole "Story of the River" cycle includes fish, bears, orcas and of course eagles - as well as a host of other species and concerns that together depict the cycle of nature in and around the rivers of the world. These are the lifeblood of the continents and it is our intention to bring you to an understanding of the cycle of this lifeblood through our cameras and other aspects of Hancock Wildlife Foundation. We're only just getting started. Come on along with us on this exciting adventure.

David and I have been talking quite a bit over the past weeks about a number of things, not the least of which is our need to get cameras into nests and do maintenance on the ones already there during the brief period when the eagles are gone. Much of this will depend on your donations, personal as well as corporate, and on other things in the works, but I expect that it will be a mad dash to do as much as possible with what we have for now.

In the mean time, despite the current network problem I feel confident that we'll be bringing you a full season of salmon spawning and eagle feeding in the Goldstream Estuary. Bob Chappell and Darren Copley have been working to get the underwater camera back online on the intertidal channel. In the mean time the bats will be back in the attic and with the infrared lights there those of you outside North America in timezones that are awake while the rest of us are asleep will be treated to their antics at night here.

We're also working hard to get similar cameras into a river near Vancouver where literally thousands of eagles feed in the late Fall and early Winter. By the time they start to tail off in Febrary, it will again be time to watch our birds nest-build in the nests for the new season. Bob and Darren were testing the new camera in 50' of water at the Goldstream Marina last week - passed with flying colors.

Read on for details...
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Ospreys have "moved on"

Esquimalt Osprey Nest CamerasFollowing is a message from the Esquimalt staff:

Employees at the Esquimalt Graving Dock were hopeful this season that with the return of a pair of Osprey at the nest at the Dock, we'd have another successful season of observing the pair as they nest, breed and have another young.  We watched as they seemed to take to their old nest, built it up (as you may have seen from the footage, they dragged almost anything they could find from the facility up there-rope, rags, gloves, etc.).  They seemed to be quite happy.  We observed them fishing, eating their catch on one of the cranes on site, communicating with one another (including obvious signs of breeding) and fighting for their territory with another pair.  We were hopeful they would stay, and were excited about having this pair spotlighted through the Hancock website.  They are such fascinating birds!  Unfortunately it's appears that they pair has moved on.  There has been no regular sighting of them in "our" nest for a couple of weeks now.  It looks like we won't be able to watch in awe as they raise another young onsite this year, but we're hopeful a pair will return next year, and plan to work with the Hancock crew to have the camera back up and running next year.

We've also been keeping an eye on the activity of Osprey in the area, including a watchful eye on an always active nest just up the road (there has been a pair with young during the past 6 years I've been watching it).  But this year, there is no pair, and very odd behaviour from the Osprey spotted in the area.

Perhaps 2007 just wasn't the year for these birds in this area.  Till next year...

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Two Golden Eaglets Killed One Wounded

St.George Utah
Two golden eagles found killed in Iron County nest
Third eaglet is found injured at the bottom of a 100-foot-deep pit

CEDAR CITY - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are offering up to $3,500 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the shooting of two golden eaglets in Iron County.

The birds were found Thursday at a historic eagle nest site north of the Iron County Firing Range near the Three Peaks Recreation Area.

Two eaglets, within a week or 10 days of being able to fly, were killed at the nest site. A third eaglet managed to escape the poachers and was recovered at the bottom of an adjacent pit approximately 100 feet deep. This male eaglet is being treated for its injuries and will be in rehabilitation for some time. A preliminary examination of the two eaglets indicated that the shooting occurred within the past few days.

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Watching Eaglets Grow

Bald Eagle BiologyI've recently added an area for eagle pictures and statistics to my website. At first glance, that may sound a bit redundant at best, given all the websites around the world with cams and discussion but as I wandered from site to site, enjoying the antics of the eaglets and wondering at the fact that some were near fledging while others were newly hatched, I found that something was missing.

I might notice that one eaglet has stubby down-covered wings while another that I thought was about the same age has suddenly sprouted feathers and, having a bit of scientific curiosity, my immediate question is "just how much older is the eaglet with the feathers?"

That isn't as easy to discover as you might think. At the very least, it requires checking the web sites for the two eaglets in the hope that they have an announcement of the hatch dates posted. If not, one needs to wander through the website blogs and the various forums where that nest is discussed until one finds the date in question.

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Violet-green Swallow nest cam active - enjoy

Goldstream Park CamerasThanks to the help of Richard Pitt and Bob Chappell, we've got our Violet-green Swallow nest box camera up and running. This was one of the first nestbox cameras that Bob built for us, and has helped us learn much more about the nesting habits of these swallows. If you watch carefully over the next few days, you'll be able to see the female (much less "crisply" coloured on her head) lay more eggs. As it stands today, there are two recently laid white eggs that are about 15 mm long. She will typically lay 4 to 5 eggs and then start to incubate for 14 to 17 days, until they hatch. The young will be fed by the parents in the nest for 3 to 4 weeks.

If you look carefully, you'll see that the nest is made up of a lower layer of mostly dry grasses, which is completed with a downy layer of feathers. The birds create a cup shape as they are building the nest by pushing towards the sides with their wings outstretched. When they do this you can hear their little legs trying to get a good grip on the floor.

If by any chance you have violet-green swallows nesting near you, I suggest you try offering light, downy feathers to them. If you blow one up into the air, they'll probably swoop down to catch it and take back to their nest. If you are interested in plans for building your own nestbox, we'll be sure to post.

We hope you enjoy viewing these birds over the coming weeks as much as we do! I'll post more information soon, including photos.

Darren

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