Save French Creek Estuary Land has documented eagles nesting on a Douglas Fir tree near the French Creek Marina. (SFCEL photo)

Bald eagle family in French Creek to get a new home

Artificial nest will be a first of its kind on Vancouver Island

An artificial nest will be constructed for a family of bald eagles, currently living near the French Creek Marina in a tree deemed unsafe and requiring removal.

The project will be conducted by biologist David Hancock of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, which has built more than 20 nests for eagles on the Lower Mainland.

The artificial nest will be located at the French Creek Estuary and will be a first of its kind on Vancouver Island.

Property owners French Creek House Ltd. had planned to chop down the decaying Douglas fir tree in 2019 for safety reasons, as it is located near the road and a parking lot. But Save French Creek Estuary Land, a local conservation group, intervened due to the eagles nesting in the tree. The plan was halted and a decision was made to seek the expertise of Hancock to relocate the nest. Earlier this year, the group documented the eagles raising a pair of eaglets. This reinforced the group’s stance on preserving the habitat.

RELATED: WATCG: Eagles return to French Creek tree saved from chopping block

RELATED: Solutions sough for French Creek tree that housed eagle’s nest

On Sunday, Sept. 6, Hancock’s team will scale a tree in the estuary and haul branches to build the nest. Hancock has had a high success rate in establishing alternatives to natural nests and has documented eagles that have adapted to their new homes.

The construction of the replacement nest will be funded by the property owners, who also offered to pay for the installation of a webcam at the nest and the construction of a second eagle nest in the area.

French Creek Estuary Land lies in the unceded territory of the Qualicum and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations and is governed by the Regional District of Nanaimo. It has been the focus of a passionate community conservation effort for decades.

“French Creek Estuary Land could become the first eagle preserve on Vancouver Island,” said Hancock, who proposed the idea due to the area’s significance for nesting and northern wintering eagles. “It’s an incredibly diverse and rich habitat supporting 180 species of birds, over 60 species of waterfowl, salmon, river otters, beaver and many other species of wildlife.”

The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and the Save Estuary Land Society have partnered to support the Hancock foundation with nest constructions and webcam placement.

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Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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