If people build a nesting pole, will the eagles come?
Vancouver park board staff are recommending the relocation of an eagle’s nest in Vanier Park.
They suggest installing a pole in another part of the Kitsilano-area park, which will have a platform to support the nest of a pair of resident eagles.
According to a staff report to the board, the current nest is on a wind-damaged tree that is no longer viable for a long-term home.
Incidentally, the same tree is in the spot where park board wants to build a new bicycle facility.
Going by the staff report, moving the nest to a pole in another location is a win for the eagles and future users of bike track.
As project manager Joe McLeod wrote in the subhead of the report, that’s “balancing environment and recreation”.
The resident eagles have nested in a tree near the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in Vanier Park since 1999.
Before construction for a new bike track was to start in February 2018, it was discovered that the eagles have a new nest where the facility is to be built. Construction was suspended.
According to the report, the double-stemmed cottonwood tree where the nest was found was damaged by winds in July last year.
“One stem of the tree collapsed and currently leans on an adjacent tree,” the report noted. “The nest was also damaged and both eaglets residing within fell to the ground.”
The report recalled that the fallen eaglets were recovered by local residents, and taken to the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta. The young birds recovered, and were released into the wild in August 2018.
The proposed bike track is adjacent to an existing facility that features dirt jumps for bicycle riders. The track will be built by Joyride Bike Parks Inc.
The existing dirt jump facility was closed by the park board last spring when the eagles were nesting.
Two eaglets hatched in May this year. “They are reported to be healthy at this time and are expected to fledge in July,” according to the report.
The report stated that the proposed nesting pole will be placed deeper in the wooded area of Vanier Park to “allow more buffering from existing park uses, Burrard Bridge traffic and the proposed residential development adjacent to and south of the site”.
The nest will be about 20 metres above the ground, and “nestled within the canopy of existing deciduous trees, which will provide the thermal cover and prospect/refuge that nesting bald eagles require”.
Citing expert opinion, the report noted that “efforts to encourage bald eagles to relocate and occupy artificial nests are typically successful, especially when they are integrated into existing wooded areas”.
“Because the new nesting pole and the existing nest near the Coast Guard station will provide two viable options, the risk of the bald eagles abandoning the area as a result of these actions is deemed to be very low,” according to the report.
In addition, “According to expert input, it is very likely that the eagles will choose to adopt the new nesting pole as their preferred location to lay eggs and raise eaglets in future years.”
Park commissioners are scheduled to vote on the plan Monday (June 24).