Juvenile Bald Eagle At Boundary Bay, BC

Juvenile Bald Eagle At Boundary Bay, BC

Immature Bald Eagle - Boundary Bay - BC - 1

As Bob and I completed the trail that leads to Centennial Beach Cafe, we heard a raucous in a treetop right above our heads.  A sole juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sat perched there at rest, whereas only one week earlier, according to regular visitors, about 200 Bald Eagles were seen in Boundary Bay Regional Park and environs.

Boundary Bay - BC

Boundary Bay Regional Park is located at the border where British Columbia, Canada, and Washington state, United States, meet.  It is a significantly important bird area where migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway stop for rest, food and nesting.  This hub of ornithological activity is centered around the over 5 million birds that will pass through, mainly in May and June,  with over 333 species of birds represented at that peak time.

Boundary Bay - BC - 1

Bob and I set out on the trail that begins at the northern end of the park, just off Boundary Bay Road, and walked adjacent to the shoreline of the bay.  As the rising sun cast a warm golden glow over the area, snow-capped mountains in the distance poked their heads above the thick fog that remained behind after the previous day’s incessant rain.

Immature Bald Eagle - Boundary Bay - BC - 3

An immature Bald Eagle requires at least 4 years to attain the pure white head and tail easily recognizable on an adult.  I suspect this young eagle is in its first year because it is very dark brown all over, but with the white bases of feathers on the underparts showing through.  This gives the bird’s chest a mottled effect.

Immature Bald Eagle in tree at Boundary Bay

Bob and I observed the eagle for a good half hour, and it was in no hurry to fly from the tree.  Perhaps given the previous several days of rain, it was pleased to sit and dry out in the bright, warm sunshine.

jean at Boundary Bay - BC - 1

Bob and I had Centennial Beach to ourselves at that point in our walk, and the soft murmurs of the gentle surf could be heard behind us as we took turns studying the Bald Eagle through our camera lenses and binoculars.  For our first morning in British Columbia, we felt we had fared pretty well.

Immature Bald Eagle - Boundary Bay - BC - 5

As the breeze stirred the eagle’s feathers, it was nonplussed by our movements at its feet, circling for different vantage points and to find better light on the bird.  Bald Eagles are almost always in the vicinity of water:  larger rivers, lakes and sea coasts, but will also frequent the adjacent countryside.  They require old growth forests or mature stands of trees for nesting as they are very particular about the height, visibility, and structure of a chosen tree, as well as proximity to prey .

Immature Bald Eagle - Boundary Bay - BC - 4

Perhaps the flock of Bald Eagles that had departed a few days earlier were headed to one of the well known winter gathering spots a little further north in Squamish.  The salmon spawning in that area usually attracts between one to two thousand Bald Eagles between November and February.  Young Bald Eagles are known to roam over great distances from their home territory, so Bob and I wondered how long this young sea eagle would remain at Boundary Bay before setting off to join the others.

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6 comments

  • Your picture of the bay with the Golden Ears Mountain in the back ground. Where was that taken from? Because I have lived in that area most of my life and I can’t place the direction you took that picture from. Curious to know.
    Thanks

    • Thank you for your inquiry. Owing to the time change between Ontario and British Columbia, we were up very early and proceeded to Boundary Bay Regional Park shortly after sunrise. We took this photo looking northeast from the 12th Avenue Dyke Trail as we walked in the direction of the main pavilion. I happened to look behind me and was struck by the beauty of the sun on the mountaintops. That was in early January.

      • I was just looking at some photos of mine and realized the Mountain in your photo (not sure of the name) is not Golden Ears but the Mt. next to it. So even though I’ve lived here most of my life I still have a lot to learn. Thanks for your reply.

        • We always have a lot to learn, I’m afraid, but that is what enriches our lives. I am not familiar with the views nor names of all the mountains around Vancouver, but I am glad that your interest was piqued by our blog story. Thanks so much for contacting us.

    • thanks, Daniel. We had high expectations when we went to Boundary Bay. I know that some birders frequently see Long-Eared, Short-eared and Snowy Owls there, as well as Northern Harriers, so Bob and I were on the hunt for those. We did see a Northern Harrier but it was backlit by the sun and swooped out of nowhere so quickly that we couldn’t get a lens on it. It still made for a very pleasant walkabout.