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Hancock Sidney Update 3

FROM DAVID HANCOCK:

(Written 2/15/11 at 8:23 p.m. PST)

Busy day.  Got a very positive response from MOE suggesting our plans to get confirmation of any potential damage to Pa via video was a great approach.  Ian and Harry were today working at getting the feeding site property permissions and food source lined up.

Then calls this morning from Harry that he had reviewed earlier screen shots (I have not yet seen them) that the day before the neck mark appeared he had seen an intruder at the nest that had an off-cam altercation with Pa.  This was heard and then when Pa next appeared he had the neck mark.  This suggests a possible source of the neck mark -- a wound from an altercation.  This lends some credence to my observations.  Namely that I never could see a line around Pa's neck. I earlier suggested that he had possibly hit a branch while 'attacking a tree' to obtain nesting branches.  The neck mark looks to me far more like a skin tear that dries up and curls the skin and feathers, than a fish line constriction.  However, if Pa was losing ground, his health, it does not matter the cause as much as how we could compensate.  If this mark is from a wound, rather than a restricting fish line, it may well heal and the problem is solved.  Maybe this is happening.

Then later in day Anna and others had captured shots of Pa and Ma at the nest and these showed him in top form  -- but with the neck ring evident.  My joy was seeing his behavior as very robust and normal.  Great postings.

Then tonight, while talking with Karen, she read Lynda's comments only posted moments earlier, on watching the pair while Ian videoed them.  Her point was that both birds were vigorous and appeared healthy.  Wonderful -- the pair seen live and on video and looking very strong and capable.

So I take today as very positive. We should quickly proceed with the feeding site as this will give us some control should the need arise.  We were and are some time from deciding to capture Pa -- this would only be permitted should from good videos confirm that his health was in grave danger.  We are some time from that thankfully but will proceed with continued observations by the keen ground crew -- and with great video captures that equally confirm vigorous health.

Thanks again, ground crew, for the positive reports.

David Hancock

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Hancock Sidney Update 2

From David Hancock: 

(Written 2/14/11 at 10:30 a.m. PST)

What a night.  So much concern about the Sidney Pa.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  We still don't know that Pa is handicapped by the 'apparent' line, elastic or cut on his neck. 

This AM I spoke with Harry and when he was carefully watching Pa yesterday and taking the fine detailed images, he was not certain that Pa is suffering from the indentations.  Certainly the marks are disruptive of the feathers but how disruptive of the eagle's behavioral options we are not yet certain.

I have also spoken with Maj of Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society on the Island and she is of the same opinion as I:  we don't like the looks but it does not yet look like a crisis situation.  Our objective is to now try and prevent the crisis with minimal intrusion and work towards Pa being an active breeder this season.  Maj also put me in touch with Angela Kendall of WildArc, the regional wildlife rehaber who would be responsible for the Sidney pair.  Angela and I also had a good talk and review of the circumstances.  She is part of this key notification group.  The mutual key is to get some better assessment of any dangers and damage to Pa from anything that might be hanging around his neck.  Is this apparent neck marking causing Pa problems?

Here is the tentative plan we are working on but this is open to comments and suggestions and ultimate approval by Ministry of Environment biologist, Sean Pendergast in Nanaimo -- who will be part of these notes to keep him informed. The key here is that we cannot interfere with the nest and we should do what we can to assess Pa's potential impairment -- if any. Then, if we come to a conclusion of impairment, we should develop a plan.

I see us needing to develop a duel strategy: try and get Pa to a place where we can better assess via personal observation and video and at the same time use these efforts to set up trapping him if he is in difficulty. Again, the assessment would not impinge on Pa being free but would allow us to gain some better observations and at the same time allow us to condition him to a site for trapping if necessary.

Here is my proposal at this time:

FIRST OPTION:

1. Harry and Ian, the ground team, will asap get a source of large fish carcasses (or road kills) and possibly get a location at a farm I have discussed with them, where this bait can be placed perhaps 50 - 60 feet from a fence and potential blind for observation and photography. The site is to be kept private and away from the public.

2. Daily as needed (or in the dark so the person is not seem) the carcasses would be put up for Pa. If Pa starts to use these then, only then, a canvas? will be placed over the fence to become a hide and better videos can be taken to assess Pa's health and vigor. This is highly likely since the pair have frequently taken road kills in the past.

3. Between the cam observations at the nest, random observations from the territory, and then hopefully close-up observations from this blind, we will be better able to assess Pa.

4. Should capture of Pa be necessary due to his deteriorating circumstance, this is authorized under the Rehaber's permits. I would attempt to hire a US bald eagle biologist who regularly traps eagles (in fact Mary and I are going out with him again shortly along the Washington coast to trap peregrines and eagles) and we would get him up here with his nets. We would work with the MOE through all this.

So in conclusion we thank all of you for your observations and concerns and we will try and keep you informed as to what is happening.

Any comments can be posted to the Forum and Karen, my coordinator, will keep me up on key elements. I will try and give some updates as we get this plan in order over the next few days.

As our locals know the area has an inordinate number of non-breeders hanging around southern BC -- they are still trying to find alternative food to the losses of salmon due to the almost non-existent or low salmon runs on most of the Alaska and BC coasts this season. A local farmer presently has 12+ juveniles + a resident pair of eagles feasting on a cow that died giving birth. This is obviously a welcome alternative when fish are scarce. Let's hope the upcoming herring and oolachin runs are high this year.

David Hancock

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Hancock Sidney Update 1

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.  Hense 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 - karen@hancockwildlife.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.

Thanks.

David

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WiTS - Wildlife Tree Stewardship


Hancock here:

Ian Moul of WiTS has just pulled together a review of the Victoria -- Saanich Peninsula Bald Eagle Nests and would like any additional observations on sites and particularly productivity in any years.

If you can add anything to this please fill in the data and resend to Ian and a cc to me. Much thanks
David Hancock
 


2/2/2011, Ian Moul wrote:
Hi David,
I have been compiling the WiTS data for eagles in the Saanich Peninsula. I thought you might like to see what I have in a first pass – at least from Goldstream to Cowichan Head. The red cells below indicate years with incomplete data that do not follow the two site visit methodology. I have been grouping nests into territories and assigning them codes and names. On the attached map are 1km diameter circles to give approximate territory locations. What I find most interesting is all the coastline with no known nests – like the whole north shore of North Saanich. It is likely that they are there but not known to those at WiTS. It would sure be nice to go along there on the water in early April.
OT = Occupied Territory, ND = Tree down, A = Active nest site but no productivity records

As this is just the first pass, I may have missed data sheets on the floor here.

More soon, Cheers, Ian

Ian Moul RPBio. - Provincial Coordinator
Wildlife Tree Stewardship (WiTS) program
wits.bc@shaw.ca
www.wildlifetree.org



 

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Thoughts on dumping out surplus fish or meat for eagles


FROM DAVID HANCOCK:


Is this good or not good?

Possibly not, and certainly controversial for a number of reasons - but maybe OK if some rules are followed.

1) Dumping garbage could well be illegal in your city or municipality.

2) Is where you can dump it going to create a mess? A hazard to eagles? Remember, road kills and electrocutions from road-side power poles are still the largest two killers of eagles. You do not want to be contributing to this.

NOTE: I am always taking road-kills off the roads and placing them away from the traffic area to protect the scavengers -- eagles, hawks, crows, coyotes etc. The question that always concerns me is: can I find a place of less negative impact on eagles than on the roadside where I found the prey?

If you are placing fish or meat out the same concerns prevail.

3) Is the quality of the food good for eagles? Has it accidently been poisoned? Sometimes vets euthanize pets using a poison that will in turn kill scavengers -- a dreadfully bad and irresponsible habit of vets.

4) Another important contamination concern: moving fish carcasses from one watershed to another can transmit natural diseases to a new watershed and should be avoided.

 

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