Approximately 150 bald eagles have gathered in the Cowichan River estuary for the fall salmon spawning runs. This is one of them in a picture taken by Wilma Harvie from the Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society. (Photo by Wilma Harvie)

Eagles swarming to Cowichan River Estuary

Salmon runs brings in at least 150 bald eagles

Patricia Conrad has never seen so many bald eagles along the lower end of the Cowichan River as it enters the estuary off Vancouver Island.

She said she counted 42 one day last week, with 13 in just one tree.

“One lady I talked to said she saw more than 50 take off at the same time from that area recently.

“I’ve never seen so many in my life and I almost drove off the road when I saw them all at the same time. It was a beautiful sight to see.”

The high number of bald eagles along the Cowichan River and its mouth to the sea is related to the annual late-fall chum and coho runs.

The latest bird count in the estuary conducted by the Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society, which has members conduct a bird count every Wednesday morning during the winter to count water birds and raptors in the area, in late November counted approximately 150 eagles there.

The eagles are expected to remain in the area for about another two weeks before the salmon runs end for the season.

RELATED STORY: DRY KOKSILAH RIVER THREATENS FISH IN COWICHAN VALLEY

Society member Derrick Marven said the people who do the bird counts only go to specific areas, so there may actually be as many as triple that number, or up to 450 bald eagles, currently in the area.

It has been quite a comeback for the bald eagle, which was on the verge of extinction just 40 years ago due to habitat destruction and degradation, illegal shooting, and the contamination of its food source, largely as a consequence of insecticides.

But Marven said the numbers are down from last year at this time, when up to 250 were counted in the Cowichan River and estuary areas.

“The salmon runs on the Cowichan River are not that good right now for a number of reasons,” he said.

“Many blame seals and sea lions, but it’s more likely the result of over fishing by humans and logging practices. If the salmons numbers continue to deteriorate, we’ll see less eagles coming here. They move great distances to find food sources.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Saanich Police looking for information relating to suspicious death

The body of a man was found on Crease Avenue just after 9 a.m. on Saturday

250th Free Little Library installed in Victoria

Greater Victoria now has the highest density of mapped little libraries in the country

Urbanists hope to see Victoria’s unused rooftops, parkades, parking lots become usable green space

Downtown Residents Association says city dwellers should have access to parks

For the love of fibre: fibre arts celebrated through demonstrations and market showcasing locally made items

Fibre arts celebrated through demonstrations and market showcasing locally made items

Cemetery tour explores Metchosin’s early history

A tour with grave consequences for those wishing to explore Metchosin’s history takes place Aug. 25

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read