The Lower Mainland is the bald eagle capital of the world according to biologist and conservationist David Hancock, and the Semiahmoo and Boundary Bays in particular are ideal nesting grounds for the birds.
While you may be able to spot these graceful birds in the sky or perched at the top of a tree, there’s nothing like seeing them up close – and the eagle cameras on the Hancock Wildlife Foundation website allows one to do so.
The website gives viewers a chance to see inside an eagles’ nest by streaming feeds from live cameras aimed on five nests in the Lower Mainland.
A screen capture from the live feed of one of the South Surrey eagle nests. Image via davidhancockfoundation.com
I spoke to David Hancock this week about his eagle cameras, and he told me he began setting up live feeds on his foundation’s website eight years ago. Hancock told me the foundation received 500 million hits for its first eagle cam live stream during the first year.
Hancock said the cameras have assisted in his own research of the birds.
“I’ve been an eagle biologist all my life, so it was kind of awesome for me to have an intimate look at the eagles.”
“Most people who’ve done studies have done them through a telescope,” Hancock said.
“That’s a little bit different than being right next to them and seeing them where they can reach up with their beak and thump the camera, and you can hear it go, ‘click’.”
One of the nests is on the property belonging to South Surrey residents Russell and Ellen Cmolik.
After their house was built they ‘adopted’ a pair of eagles whose previous nest – 500 yards from the Cmolik’s property – had come down. The foundation prepared the framework for a new nest, which the eagles quickly took to when they returned from their migration.
Ellen Cmolik said the live stream has been a big hit – especially when the eagles expanded their family.
“Some people couldn’t tear themselves away when the babies were born,” she said.
Bald eagle parent with two baby eagles. Image via davidhancockfoundation.com
There is also a discussion forum for the nest on the website.
Along with the eagle cams, the foundation website also has live streams of wildlife from a range of other cameras around the world.
Hancock said the Hancock Wildlife Foundation hopes in future to produce programs that will fit in school curriculums and raise awareness of conservation issues.
If you prefer trying to spot these graceful birds with the naked eye, click here for a listing of bald eagle nests around Metro Vancouver
A bald eagle watches over the nest in this screen capture from the live feed of one of the South Surrey eagle cams. Image via davidhancockfoundation.com