Annual count reveals increase in number of eagles, swans

Annual count reveals increase in number of eagles, swans in North Okanagan
By Doyle Potenteau Online Journalist Global News
January 17, 2019

Eagles are on the rise in the North Okanagan, according to a recent count of the majestic bird.

Results from the North Okanagan’s annual count for swans and eagles were released this week, and organizers say there was a big uptick in eagle sightings at 210.

“Substantially more eagles were tallied in the North Okanagan this year than typical of years past,” the press release said. “It may have been the single largest tally of eagles that we’ve ever had, certainly in the past decade anyway.”

Of the eagles counted, 208 were bald eagles while two were golden eagles. Further, the majority of those bald eagles, 173, were spotted between Vernon and Sicamous. The two golden eagles were counted between Coldstream and Lumby.

“Thirty per cent of these were immature birds and a majority of all eagles observed were concentrated adjacent to several chicken farm operations in Armstrong and Grindrod,” said the release. “Evidently, these farms have grown in size during the past few years and it appeared the timing of cleaning out offal from the barns coincided well with the count day.”

Regarding swans, 117 trumpeter swans were counted, with 86 tallied between Vernon and Sicamous.

Organizers said due to open, not-yet-frozen-over water throughout the region, the swans were more dispersed than normal.

“Even the north end of Otter Lake had open water and swans dabbling this year,” said the release. “We counted a total of 117 trumpeter swans, which is up a little from the past year, but still represented by a relatively low proportion of juveniles, with 13 per cent of those observed [as] cygnets.”

The count took place on Sunday, January 13th, a calm and mostly overcast day. It was the 39th annual count for swans and the 25th annual count for eagles.

Twenty-two observers took part, covering four areas around Vernon and the North Okanagan. The area breakdowns were Vernon to Sicamous; Coldstream to Lumby to Mabel Lake; Enderby to Kingfisher to Mabel Lake and the greater Vernon area.

Other birds of note that observers spotted included: rough-legged hawk, kestrel, golden eye, great blue heron, ring-necked duck, pileated woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, horned grebe, black-capped chickadee, and northern flicker.