A Message from David Hancock, Hancock Wildlife Foundation, Surrey, BC
Tracking Bald Eagles is a big challenge since British Columbia hosts the world’s largest winter gatherings of these raptors. BC also hosts some of the densest breeding concentrations in all of North America. Handcock Wildlife Foundation is expanding its data base to cover the entire province. Can you help? Can you find some local nesting eagles, bald or golden, ospreys, peregrine falcons etc. and make a few observations during the breeding season? If so, this note is for you.
The Foundation maintains an extensive Data Base on Bald Eagles but also on many other Raptors. One of the real conservation values of this database is that in British Columbia we have a Wildlife Act that offers some very specific protection to some predators. However, this protection is largely dependent upon private concerned citizens reporting concerns and potential infractions.
Specifically, every eagle nest, occupied or unoccupied, and other raptor nests when occupied are protected by Section 34 of the Act. The Wildlife Branch, namely FLNRO (Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development) must demand a Mitigation Study if a nest is to be removed or disturbed. But they only make this demand if YOU demand it.
Our data base has been front and centre in keeping our eagle nests in the Greater Vancouver area. We now want this additional protection brought to other areas of the Province. This is where you can help. Once the nest is documented it serves as a potential datum against destruction if a complaint comes in. We need breeding distribution and productivity data from around the province (or anywhere else if you read this message).
The data is simple to collect and while we like more than few observations per nest it is usually acceptable to make three visits per season: one early in the season to determine if the nest territory is Active; a second to determine if the pair is on eggs or with small young, and a third visit to try and determine productivity – how many young are present and about to fledge. Simple, well, sort of. If you are in the lower Fraser Valley, we can give you a Google Earth Pro map showing the nests – often plural since many pairs have alternative nests in the same territory.
We have over 550 territories in the Lower Fraser. Elsewhere I may have a few hundred scattered here and there but there are thousands to find. We plot the nests on the free Google Earth Pro mapping program and this program records or determines the GPS from the map. Recording the notes is straight forward: Date + who is present, and any activities worth commenting on: size and number of young. The scientific community has generally accepted that at about nine months of age is the measure of productivity and that the young will fledge. We also like to have photos confirming the Nest territory, the Nest Tree and a close-up of the Nest. These should get the HWF Nest Number in the file name. If you get a single or two or three nests, you can record the sites in your notes and forward them to me annually. Or if you have a few for the area I will set these up with my Assigned Nest Number, GPS, tree species and a few other facts and put this in a Google Cloud file that you and I can access.
I have found the Covid year to be my most prolific for observations as I can go out all day, often visiting 30 nests, make wonderfully satisfying observations and never come in contact with anybody outside my bubble.
What a great day with the eagles and nature! I invite anybody to make these observations, on bald eagles, golden eagles, ospreys and peregrines and forward them to me at: email@example.com. You become a Hancock Eagle Monitor HEM – and I will send you my little book on eagles if you send me your mailing address. I don’t get to emails every day but I answer all cell calls if you have a question at: 604 761-1025. As this develops, I will be looking for additional Monitors to help with the different species coordination. Please let me know if you can help? You can follow our Hancock Wildlife Foundation live streaming CAMs or follow some of our GPS tracked eagles at: www.hancockwildlife.org.
We would be pleased to add in a thread on our Website for you to contribute comments & photos to, on any nest you and others find particularly interesting. Contact: Info@hancockwidlife.org for how to post to our Web.When we get back to normal travel, you may find me in your neighborhood looking for your raptors. I look forward to meeting you.