A lonely “tree” is coming down at Ogden Point.
Last year Western Stevedoring, the company that manages Ogden Point, installed a fake tree on top of one of the warehouses as a part of a pilot project to try to entice eagles to come nest in the area.
Eagles would act as predators for the surrounding seagulls which have an overzealous population in the area, with 102 nests spotted on the rooftop at Pier A in 2018.
Unfortunately, the tree didn’t quite match an eagle’s liking. Staff from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which owns the marina, saw a total of one eagle scope it out.
“We had an eagle land on it in the fall, which everyone was really excited about,” said Brian Cant, communications manager for the GVHA. “But, he didn’t stay.”
So, it’s time for Plan B.
The tree will come down shortly, and instead a series of latticework will be installed to act as seagull deterrents.
The latticework will have a “rising and falling” design to create a system of hills.
Cant said that while the primary goal is to deter gulls, the latticework will hopefully also encourage eagles to land in the area.
Jacques Sirois, who works with the the Friends of Victoria Harbour Bird Sanctuary and helped coordinate the initial fake tree, said that the failed experiment pointed out flaws in the original plan.
“[The] fake tree – used only once by an eagle, [was] not very useful in the end,” said Sirois. “To be effective, an eagle perch has to be high – the higher the better. The experimental eagle perch on Pier A warehouse roof was too low, essentially. Nor was it an optimal location.”
Sirois added that he hopes to see one or two proper bald eagle perches installed at Ogden Point eventually, perhaps with the installation of new light standards.
The latticework is being developed now, while lighting upgrades to better accommodate eagle nests are still in early discussion.
The eagle “tree” isn’t the first effort in the area to encourage a more diverse bird population; last month the GVHA installed six pole nesting boxes designed for pigeon guillemots to live in, but they were destroyed on Friday after a Canadian Coast Guard vessel crashed into the breakwater.
“We’re going to put those back up as part of a continuous effort to have a healthy bird population,” Cant said.
The GVHA will also install six duck ramps in Victoria’s harbours as duckling season begins.
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