The eagles have landed: in Oak Bay

Sextet of birds return to nest in trio of spots around Oak Bay

A male bald eagle brings back some fish to feed his mate and their two eaglets in a nest in Oak Bay.

Bald eagles have long been one of the most recognizable birds in North America.

Their iconic white heads have graced everything from flags to stamps to sports and business logos, and they are perhaps most famously known as an official symbol of the United States.

Oak Bay, with its abundance of shoreline, provides ideal habitat for the big predators. Observers have had their eagle eyes trained on a trio of local nests for several years now.

The nests, located behind the fire hall on Monterey Avenue, on the grounds of the Victoria Golf Club and in Anderson Hill Park, have attracted a loyal following.

“I was never a birder until I found the eagles,” said Kay Steer, who lives in Saanich, but frequently comes to Oak Bay to check on her feathered friends.

She visits a number of eagle nests throughout the Capital Region, but the accessibility of the ones in Oak Bay makes them prime photo subjects. “They’re just so beautiful with their white heads.”

According to mainland-based wildlife biologist David Hancock, bald eagles generally mate for life and their tendency to return to the same nest, year after year, creates a bond between the birds and those who watch them.

“In a sense, what we’ve developed is kind of a guardian of wildlife,” he said. “Some of them know every movement of every bird.”

Hancock’s eponymous Wildlife Foundation is involved in a number of conservation initiatives, but it’s perhaps best known for installing web cams in several eagle nests on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Currently none of the Oak Bay nests are video monitored, but Hancock said if he can secure the help of a sponsor, that could change.

At the Victoria Golf Club, duffers seeking out eagles of the two-under-par variety may have better luck spotting the real thing. The birds at the club have been nesting there for at least a decade, according to club employees, and have become quite popular with the golfers.

“Our members look for them every spring,” said general manager Scott Kolb. “They just add another unique feature to our golf club.”

He reminds members of the public who want to watch the birds to do so from outside the course boundaries, to avoid being injured by errant golf balls or other hazards around the property.

The easiest of the three nests to get up close and personal with is the one behind the Oak Bay fire hall.

The eagles there suffered some kind of trauma – likely the theft of their eggs by a marauding raven or raccoon – and temporarily abandoned the nest last year. This spring they returned and what’s more, they’ve added a pair of eaglets to the family.

“It’s quite exciting to see the chicks growing up and popping up above the nest,” said Oak Bay Fire Chief Gerry Adam. “You hear them squawking and chirping all the time.”

It’s a rare day that someone isn’t spotted outside the hall with a pair of binoculars or a camera, he added.

The third nest, next to an Island Road house, is not quite as accessible as the other two.

However, the eagles that live there have a favourite perching tree at the south end of Anderson Hill Park which is much more visible.

The male is also often spotted sitting on a marker on Trial Island.

For Steer, the eagles have almost become extended family members.

“You get to know them so well when you’re watching them,” she said.

Steer and her fellow eagle-watchers – of which there are dozens – share photos and document the birds’ movements on the Hancock Wildlife Foundation website, which has forums dedicated to many different animals. Visit www.hancockwildlife.org to learn more about local eagles and other projects.

editor@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

PRIDE on the Barge caps off last Friday of Pride Month

Starting at 5 p.m. with music from Rocksteady

Local grocery store steps up to help resident after Saanich jams her stand

Pepper’s Foods will start selling jams previously sold through roadside stand

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

Last remaining Victoria Legion faces $100,000 property tax bill

The Trafalgar/ Pro Patria Branch can’t afford to operate with such high taxes

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbot’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Most Read