Conservation groups watched in delight as members of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation build the first artificial nest for eagles in the French Creek Estuary on Sunday, Sept. 6.
The nest is the first of its kind on Vancouver Island.
The new home will replace the current nest on a Douglas fir tree near the French Creek Marina. The decaying tree poses a risk to the public and will have to be chopped down.
Denise Foster of the Save Estuary Land Society said eagle mitigation work is a significant undertaking for the area.
“We’re pretty excited to see a bald eagle’s nest being constructed here, the first on Vancouver Island right here on the French Creek Estuary land,” said Foster. “Our society has been working to protect this land and have been working with Friends of French Creek Conservation Society for a long time. It’s an ecologically important area and the eagle’s nest is a tribute to the importance of the land for bald eagles.”
The building process took more than five hours. Before that, Hancock’s crew of biologists, along with local conservationists, scoured the area for a suitable tree. Not many have the natural structure that can firmly support the nest in place.
The found one just behind a residence on Viking Way Road near Columbia Beach in French Creek. Hancock said it used to have an eagle nest on it but it fell to the ground due to a bad foundation.
“It’s our belief that the very pair that went over the marina nest started here about six years ago,” Hancock explained. “So we’re going to make them a nice foundation on the same tree that they had a bad foundation. We’re going to improve it for them. We’re hopeful they’re going to come back.”
Hancock said they are building a platform that the eagles will see as an alternative once they return and find their former home is gone. It’s a process that Hancock says has had a 100 per cent success rate.
Biologist Myles Lamont, who has helped the foundation build 20 nest in the last 10 years, scaled the tree and built the braces that formed the base of the nest’s platform.
“We’re using natural materials, replicating a natural nest, as close to as we can get it because birds adapt to it much better that way,” said Lamont.
The owners of the sanctuary, French Creek House Ltd., have supported the project and funded the replacement nest, includinb the installation of a webcam.