Eagle influx a sign of too few salmon

Sunday, January 16 2011 @ 08:19 PM EST

Contributed by: terrytvgal

By Jeff Nagel - BC Local News
Published: January 03, 2011 6:00 PM
Updated: January 03, 2011 8:34 PM

David Hancock watched as a seagull nabbed a juicy glop of food from the Vancouver Landfill and tried to flap away with it.

Ten eagles dove on the gull, which dropped the morsel nearly on his windshield.

A great flurry of wings swarmed Hancock's car in the ensuing food fight – one that was being replicated all over the landfill Monday.

"They're all here because there's 50,000 gulls eating garbage," the wildlife biologist explains. "As soon as a gull grabs a piece of garbage that's too big to swallow immediately, there's five eagles hassling him."

Hancock, who runs eagle webcams on his website hancockwildlife.org, says the spectacular scene is not a happy one.

Thousands of eagles have descended on the Fraser Valley this winter in a desperate search for food after the coastal streams where they usually feed yielded disastrously poor chum salmon runs.

The birds that often congregate in areas like Brackendale are instead ranging further inland because the chum came back poorly and this is not a year with any significant number of pink salmon returning.

As a result, nearly 7,500 eagles flocked last month to the Chehalis River near Harrison Hot Springs, where more coho salmon had been spawning.

And Hancock estimated nearly 1,000 eagles were near the Vancouver Landfill in Delta from Boundary Bay to Burns Bog Monday.

"We've got pushing pretty close to a thousand birds at the dump," he said.


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Eagles Congregating at Dump to find Food

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Hancock Wildlife Foundation