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)

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

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read