The Northern Snow Birds have Started to Gather at the Chehalis!
Eagle Festival Alert: the northern migrants, our 35,000 bald eagle visitors, are on their way!
Both the last two Saturdays I did a count on the Harrison – Chehalis Rivers and between 500 and 550 eagles had already arrived. With the cold weather north of us I expect we could see 200 to 500 per day arriving throughout November and December. Now the southern challenge is will our reduced spawning fish stocks be able to feed them. The key is about 35,000 eagle migrants are on their way south looking for a free dinner – and for 4 months.
The most encouraging feature of yesterday was not just the number of eagles that have already arrived but that the river was full of spawning and dead fish — the table can still daily be set for some weeks to come. And a full plate for a few ‘fighting eagles’ is of course a 7kilo dead salmon on the riverbank. The other variable is the height of the water. The last two weekends it has held high enough to cover most of the Chehalis Flats, the main many kilometers of little rivulets that surround spawning channels and as the water drops the sand bars emerge catching the dead drifting carcasses. This is the feasting table that some days is serving up dinner for 2500 eagles for breakfast and another 2500 for lunch and again at dinner.
Our Observation Platforms overlook this buffet. Yesterday the few bars were loaded with dead fish. So if we now get a week of cold weather, particularly north of here sealing off their river carcasses under ice, the eagles will continue south. These are the “First and True ‘Northern Snowbirds’ !”
Usually by the Festival weekend we have 2500 eagles in the Harrison – Chehalis observation area. This year the Festival will be featuring the magnificent Eagle Observatory built by Betty Anne Faulkner at the Sandpiper Golf Course. Access is of course Free, the lectures are Free, the Kilby Hall displays are Free and our wonderful viewing sites and volunteers are Free, and hopefully seeing our annual biological wonder of over 2000 bald eagles is Free. There are a couple of things you have to pay for: food and a tour of the river’s east side where the eagle roost on the Fraser River Safari Tour boat – which I frequently sneak on as a guide but to make the counts.
Please come to see one of our huge natural resources that make Super Natural British Columbia both Super and natural.
David Hancock, Hancock Wildkife Foundation: David: 604-761-1025, [email protected]
Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival: see our web for Map: www.fvbef.org