This has been a sad week for some of us on Lower Road in Roberts Creek. Some dear neighbours across the street, a bald eagle pair, lost their home and family due to Wednesday’s storm winds.
Their large stick nest, tucked between two vertical branches at the top of a 46-metre (150-foot) dead balsam fir, came crashing down April 10 close to the ocean, just east of Roberts Creek Road. The tree fell victim to northwest winds that gusted as high as 70 km/h; the same storm blew out power for many homes in Vancouver.
— Jane Covernton photo
The remains of the tree limbs
Local news of the demise of the nest and its contents—my husband Frank and I had already started watching mamma eagle sit on her eggs—appeared quickly. After email and Facebook notifications came out, visitors and locals alike appeared on Lower Road to take pictures in front of where the nest used to be.
After the nest and tree limbs fell to the ground, the two eagles kept circling close to the site of their former home, alighting on a nearby branch. They stayed silent for hours. The following day, both sat next to each other on the same branch for almost the whole day. They were homeless, no longer parents.
Everyone who knew the eagles and the nest was grieving the loss.
For more than a decade, I have watched these two eagles build or expand their nest each year and take turns sitting on eggs. Like anxious relatives, my husband and I have waited to see the new youngsters; through a monocular, we gauge their progress. First, their gawky heads poke above the top of the nest. Then they begin to flap their wings and more of them appears. Gradually, they grow big enough to squat on the top of the nest and hop from side to side, while still squawking for food.
Often, the eaglets—sometimes there’s only one—spend days or a week perched on the nest, staring down, as if trying to gain the nerve to try and fly. Finally, they lift off and for the first time, catch their own food. It’s exhilarating to witness the slow growth of such vulnerable creatures into self-sufficient, wild beings. From parental care, they’re nurtured into independent freedom.
And now the nest and eggs are gone.
We hope that the eagles choose to stay in our neighbourhood, where the ocean offers lots of salmon. Perhaps they’ll choose a nearby tree, one that still affords an unobstructed view of Roberts Creek Beach and beyond.
Thankfully, the limbs that landed in our neighbours’ yard damaged only part of their garden, not them, their home or car.
April 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm Comments (2)