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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Royal Bay Secondary School (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke School District alerts community to coronavirus positive case at Royal Bay secondary

Contact tracing underway after potential COVID-19 exposure Jan. 15

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read