The Goldstream Estuary has become a favourite winter dining spot for Bald Eagles. They flock to these feeding grounds to feast on the high-protein chum salmon carcasses — all that remains of the salmon run. Bald Eagles have been returning to the estuary in greater numbers recently, now that the estuary has been closed to public access.
In winter 1990/91, a quiet zone was created on the lower stretch of the Goldstream River. This Quiet Zone resulted in increasing numbers of Bald Eagles. Four years later, in the fall of 1994, a Black Bear entered the estuary to feed on the salmon. Rather than removing the Black Bear, the estuary was closed off to the public for the duration of the salmon run. The absence of people in the area also provided eagles with a space to feed without human interruption.
Since closing off the estuary, the number of eagles feeding on the salmon carcasses has risen from a yearly high of 12 to one of more than 200.
More recently, the estuary has been closed all year-round, a conservation strategy that has encouraged a pair of eagles to nest here as well. Even a single hiker or kayaker can cause the eagles to fly to safety and miss one of their daily meals. Please help us ensure that eagles continue to return to Goldstream by respecting the signs around the estuary.
Tips for eagle watchers
These Bald eagles have traveled hundreds of kilometres to reach the Goldstream estuary in time for this annual feast of spawned-out salmon. They can only feed during the low tides, when the dead salmon are exposed. Visitors must remember that the wildlife comes first, so please follow a few guidelines when visiting:
- Bring binoculars and a camera. Because of changes in the way BC Parks manages the estuary, the Bald eagles and other birds of prey are more visible than ever before!
- The estuary and quiet zone along the river are closed to the public - these areas have been set aside for wildlife. Please pass the word on to kayakers and boaters.
- Please carpool if possible; there is limited parking.
- A viewing platform near the Visitor Centre allows visitors to get as close as possible to the eagles. Be sure to approach it slowly and quietly.
- The best time to view undisturbed eagle feeding behaviour is during a low tide, which is usually in the morning during the winter. A remote control eagle camera is set up in the Visitor Center, which allows you to zoom in on the birds in the estuary.
- We encourage you to leave your dog at home. If you do decide to bring a dog it must kept be on a leash and on the trails.
- Do not leave your wallet, purse or other valuables in your car.
Visit the park again in the spring to mark the progress of the Bald Eagle nesting season.