Above: An adult bald eagle stands in a tree at the Harrison River on Saturday. The weekend marked the annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival in Harrison Mills and Mission. Right: An adult bald eagle soars overhead. Below right: People use spotting scopes to look at eagles on the Harrison River.

Birds of prey centre stage during annual festival

Attendance records 'smashed' at this year's event, said FVBEF chair

By Maria Spitale-Leisk

Record contributor

 

The eagle-to-human ratio was 1:1 for the main event of the annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival this past weekend, as 3,000 yellow-beaked birds of prey soared high above Harrison Mills.

“Initial reports seem like we have smashed attendance records,” said FVBEF chair Jo-Anne Chadwick.

A record number of eagles have returned to the area, eyeing the millions of spawning salmon at the mouth of the Fraser River. Historically, the highest eagle count occurs a few weeks after festival weekend, when temperatures up north dip below freezing and drive the raptors south in search of easy prey, according to the FVBEF.

For instance, noted bald eagle biologist David Hancock counted 7,362 eagles during an outing in December 2010. Chadwick is predicting a similar result for this season.

“There is a lot of food [spawning salmon] in the river so it could be a banner year for eagles in the [Fraser] Valley,” said Chadwick.

The eagle excitement continues for the next three weekends with featured region festivals. The skies above Harrison Mills will be in the spotlight from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Highlights include a photography workshop and Fraser River Safari eagle tours.

Visit www.fvbef.ca for more information.

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