West Coast Wildlife: The Winter Eagle Gathering at Brackendale
Once a year, Squamish BC hosts one of North America’s largest winter congregations of bald eagles! These awe-inspiring flying predators land at Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park to prey on spawning salmon as they travel along the Squamish River. Taking place in late fall and early winter, visitors have the chance to experience one of nature’s most spectacular events.
This is an unmissable event for West Coast wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers around the world!
The Winter Eagle Gathering
Bald eagles may immediately conjure up images of patriotic Americans, but Squamish is actually the winter home of the North American Bald Eagle (scientific name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus.) Each year, literally hundreds of majestic bald eagles gather, soaring and swooping along the Squamish river, hunting the migrating salmon. Although there are nests of eagles in the area year-round, nothing compares to the winter gathering.
The feast is usually over a month long, and takes place around mid November to mid December.
Eagle Run Park and Brackendale
Brackendale attracts one of the largest winter gatherings of bald eagles, as they arrive to hunt droves of salmon along the Squamish River. To findBrackendale you’ll need to head north on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Brackendale isn’t only a park and eagle viewing point, it’s also a friendly neighbourhood with great hiking and mountain biking trails nearby, bike shops, an art gallery, restaurants and cafes, and even a resort if you decide you’d like to spend a night or two.
Did you know: Brackendale attracts so many eagles in November and December that one year Squamish held the world-record count: 3,769 eagles in 1994!
Eagle Fun Facts!
Bald eagles aren’t actually bald, at least not the way we think of the word. The name comes from “balde” meaning white, not hair-free.
- It takes 4 to 5 years for eagles to reach full maturity
- You’ve probably heard of eagle eye vision, but did you know that they can see 4 or 5 times farther than the average human, have a 340 degree field of vision (ours is only 180!) as well as stereoscopic and ultraviolet vision
- We’re not done with eyes! Eagles have three eyelids
- Their scientific name Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is Latin for “white-headed sea eagle”
- The average wing span of an eagle is about two metres (6 feet)
If you would like to learn more about North American Bald Eagles, or become involved in protecting their habitat, read about the volunteer-run EagleWatch program.
Discover the Brackendale Eagles with Yervana
Yervana Local Tristan will take you to one of the best view points, Eagle Run Park. Picking passengers up from downtown Vancouver, you can kick back, relax and enjoy the scenic drive through Stanley Park, over the Lionsgate Bridge and up the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
Grab a coffee or hot chocolate and watch in wonder while walking along the riverfront, observing eagles in their natural habitat as they search for salmon swimming upstream. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss. Peek through your binoculars and set up your camera to capture the day’s best shot with the Tantalus Mountain Range looming in the background.
This adventure has something for nature lovers and photographers alike, offering a powerful glimpse into the natural balance of British Columbia’s Coastal Rainforest.
The adventure includes: transportation, local naturalist knowledge, handout guides and a pair of binoculars for your group. You can book groups of up to 12 people. Book now!