It’s one of nature’s most spectacular shows – a coordinated dance of faraway species that sees the ending of one life cycle feed the hungry mouths of another. And it happens right here, in the flats and waterways of the Fraser Valley.
People from across B.C. come to Sts’ailes traditional territory and the Harrison Mills area each year to witness thousands of bald eagles nesting, feeding, fighting and flying in local trees and gravel bars.
But before that come millions of salmon, returning from the Pacific and swimming up into the Harrison River, ready to spawn. Having completed nature’s final duty, the salmon die shortly after, creating an abundance of food for hungry eagles, many flying down from Alaska and Nothern Canada where the rivers have frozen.
If that miraculous, natural phenomenon isn’t enough to get you out in nature, then a number of events, nature walks and viewing opportunities should do the trick.
The Observer rounded up any and all opportunities for eagle viewing and learning this fall.
The 23rd annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival
For 23 years the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival (FVBEF) has lured bird-lovers and nature-enthusiasts out to Sasquatch Country to “celebrate the season of eagles and salmon” and this fall will be no different.
On Nov. 17-18, head to Tapadera Estates or the the Sandpiper Golf Resort for exceptional eagle views and nature talks.
Experts like Ross Davies, the lead program interpreter for the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society, David Hancock, author, conservationist and general bald eagle expert and Aimee Mitchell, a biologist and at-risk species researcher will offer insight into different B.C. species and the challenges they face.
Don’t miss the Kilby Nature Walk either – participants will learn about the natural history of the Kilby area and how “industry and transportation shaped the story of Harrison Mills.”
Additionally, the Harrison Mills Community Hall will host an Exhibitor’s Fair on both days, with displays, videos, kids activities, artisans and gift sales.
With almost all events completely free, the only thing attendees need to bring is a warm coat and a pair of binoculars. Head to fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca for a full schedule of the weekend’s events.
Eagle Viewing Boat Tours
One way to get closer to the eagles? Get on the water. From the safety of a boat, viewers can watch eagles as they feed on spawning salmon from shore and congregate on gravel bars.
Fraser River Safari is the official jet boat tour of the FVBEF and offers a close-up view of the birds from a custom-designed, heated safari boat. Tours are interpreted by FVBEF president Jo-Anne Chadwick. Pre-booking is recommended. Check out fraservalleybaldeaglefestival.ca for times and costs.
Another option is Harrison Eco Tours, who offer heated boat tours year round and a leisurely float through the Harrison Mills area during eagle season. Shoreline Tours also offers a unique boat tour on the Harrison River during fall months, with tours running every day during October and November.
Other eagle viewing sites
Local-submitted recommendations came in on Facebook and included:
- Along Prest Road
- Chehalis Flats (from shore – traversing the Flats is detrimental to both eagles and salmon this time of year)
- Public access location on the Sandpiper Golf Course
- Harrison River RV Park and Campground welcomes eagle-viewers for the cost of a $5 day pass
- Eagle Point Community Park also welcomes eagle-viewers during the festival, Nov.17-18 only.