All About Bald Eagles and Where to See Them
Even if you are used to seeing bald eagles soaring above, it’s still a thrill to see one of these majestic birds at the top of a nearby nest tree or out on the hunt.
If you want to find these birds of prey, Vancouver Island is a great place to be. While exploring some of the island’s beautiful shores on your yacht, keep an eye or camera lens out for these impressive symbols of freedom and strength.
Read on to learn about bald eagles and some of the best places on Vancouver Island to see them.
All About the Bald Eagle
The word “bald” might suggest that this eagle lacks head feathers, but in fact, that part of its name comes from the term “piebald,” which refers to an animal bearing a pattern of spots or an area that lacks pigment.
With white feathers on the head and a dark brown body, an adult eagle already looks striking, without considering that the typical bald eagle size is 3 feet from the top of the head to the tip of the tail.
Their size and an average bald eagle wingspan of 8 feet might make you think an adult is a hefty bird. But they weigh less than 15 pounds because of their hollow bones.
While bald eagles are native to North America and can be found all over British Columbia, their preferred habitat is near the coast or in densely treed areas around rivers and lakes.
What Do Bald Eagles Eat?
Bald eagles mainly eat fish – such as salmon – and other birds. However, they can also hunt for small mammals and even those up to the size of a tiny fawn.
While bald eagles prefer live prey, they are also known to eat carrion (dead or rotting flesh) when their typical game is not abundant.
Although bald eagles are predatory, they are considered opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever meat is available, whether alive or not.
10 Interesting Facts About Bald Eagles
Bald eagles are not only beautiful birds and impressive hunters, but they also have some hidden skills to help them survive. Here are 10 bald eagle facts you may not know:
- Excellent vision. A bald eagle has eyesight that is 8 times better than a human’s. This characteristic allows them to spot prey hundreds of feet in the air.
- Devoted mates. When bald eagles find a mate, they remain with that mate for their entire life.
- Neck rotation. Eagles can turn their head 210 degrees to spot prey more easily.
- Impressive grip. Bald eagles have a grip strength up to 10 times that of a human, allowing them to not only catch their prey but also carry it over distances without letting go.
- Bold and intelligent. Bald eagles dive directly in front of the sun to blind their prey.
- Living the high life. A bald eagle’s nest is typically found at the tops of tall trees or high cliffs. By making a home so high up, bald eagles can keep themselves away from other predators while giving them an excellent vantage point for spotting prey.
- Balanced feather loss. When bald eagles lose feathers on one side, they will also lose the same ones on the other. This way, their feathers remain balanced so as not to impact their ability to fly correctly.
- Nesting. Bald eagle nests can be up to 2 meters in diameter and are made of lichens, seaweed, plant stalks, sticks and moss.
- Swimming skills. Have you ever seen a bald eagle swimming? Although it’s not an everyday activity, they have been known to use their wings to propel themselves through the water, usually while holding onto a fish with their claws.
- Illegal eagle. It is unlawful to pick up bald eagle feathers to take home or to own any part of a bald eagle.
The 5 Best Places to Spot Bald Eagles on Vancouver Island
Bald eagles are a common sight for fishermen and other boaters travelling along Vancouver Island’s coasts. On any given day, you might see one or two bald eagles, but you might also see dozens as they soar through the skies and hunt the coastline for their prey.
While it is possible to spot bald eagles almost anywhere along the coast of Vancouver Island, including Victoria, some places are recognized as offering better sighting opportunities.
Here is a list of the 5 best places to spot bald eagles on Vancouver Island:
- Tofino. On Vancouver Island’s west coast, situated on a peninsula in Clayoquot Sound, you’ll find Tofino, a district with a population of around 2,000 people. Tofino is home to coastal rainforests, sandy beaches, inland lakes and bald eagles.
- Campbell River. Just over 50 km from Courtney, on Vancouver Island’s east coast, you’ll find the city of Campbell River. Nestled between its namesake river and the south end of Discovery Passage, Campbell River is virtually surrounded by prime bald eagle habitat.
- Telegraph Cove. Located just over 200 km northwest of Campbell River, Telegraph Cove is a tiny community of just 20 people. Formerly the site of a fish cannery, Telegraph Cove is now a hotspot for eco-tourism, including bald eagle viewing.
- Port McNeill. Port McNeill is situated near the east coast’s northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. With a small population of around 2,000 people, Port McNeill is a popular summer-time tourism destination due to the wide variety of wildlife that can be seen in the surrounding area.
- Ucluelet. Just over 40 km south of Tofino, on Vancouver Island’s west coast, is the municipality of Ucluelet. Ucluelet is bordered by water on three sides and offers an abundance of bald eagle viewing opportunities.
Wildlife Viewing from The Comfort of Your Boat
One of the best ways to view bald eagles in BC is from your boat. Contact a member of Van Isle Marina’s knowledgeable sales team if you’re interested in taking full advantage of Vancouver Island’s natural beauty by exploring the coast by purchasing a new or used boat. We can find your ideal yacht and get you out on the water in no time.
Our state-of-the-art marina is the perfect location to start and end a day of on-the-water wildlife viewing. Contact us to find out more about mooring with us.