The Bald Eagles are Back in Vancouver

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Every winter, thousands of bald eagles descend on the rivers, lakes and coasts of British Columbia to feed on spawning salmon.  This year is no exception, and right now is one of the top times for wildlife lovers to spot the majestic birds in Vancouver and the surrounding communities.

Here are some tips on where to see the eagles for yourself.    The official “Winter Home of the Bald Eagle” is the tiny community of Brackendale, approximately one hour north of Vancouver on the scenic Sea-to-Sky Highway.  Earlier this week, some 655 bald eagles were tallied in Brackendale’s 26th annual eagle count.  While this number may seem impressive, it’s actually far lower than the record of 3,769 bald eagles counted in 1994.

Among the best places to see the eagles in Brackendale is, appropriately enough, at Eagle Run, a viewing facility located on the municipal dyke along Government Road.  At this picturesque spot near the convergence of the Squamish and Cheakamus Rivers, just north of the end of Howe Sound, you can often sea dozens of eagles perched in trees, circling in the air or tearing into the spawned-out salmon along the river.

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Nearby you’ll find the Brackendale Art Gallery, which is the unofficial centre of all eagle activities in town.  Burly, bearded owner Thor Froslev is the resident eagle expert.  He’ll tell you the best spots for bird watching and explain why bald eagle numbers have been declining (It has a lot to do with diminishing salmon stocks).  There are also great eagle-themed paintings, photos and sculptures inside, plus – throughout January – special seminars on eagle issues.

A bit closer to the city of Vancouver, one of the best places to spot bald eagles is in Boundary Bay Regional Park in the suburb of Delta, as well as the nearby (but not exactly picturesque) Vancouver Landfill.  Right now there are an estimated 800 eagles feeding in those two locations.  Boundary Bay Regional Park makes a great day trip, with 23.5 kilometers of walking trails that wind between dunes and grasslands along the coast.

Anyone seen the eagles this year?  What’s the best spot for eagle watching? 

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