FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — In addition to moving earth, diverting water and pouring concrete, the Site C team can add eagle habitat construction to its list of project tasks taking place near Fort St. John.
Crews have been building around 40 new eagle nesting platforms near the shoreline of the future reservoir. The nesting platforms will provide additional nesting options for bald eagles in the area. Project crews have built similar structures for other birds of prey, including ospreys, in other communities across the province.
“Protecting wildlife is a big priority for us,” reads a release from the project team. “Before and during construction, we monitor eagle activity – including by helicopter three times a year. If we find active bald eagle nests within construction areas, these are protected with a large ‘no-clearing’ buffer zone to avoid disturbance to the nesting birds.”
The team noted while it is working to protect nests, there are times when they need to remove trees containing the nests to advance construction.
This situation arose recently when the project team had to move two inactive bald eagle nests from the north bank of the Peace River.
“This is tricky work as some nests can weigh up to 1,000 pounds,” said project officials. “Professional fallers assisted in removing the entire section of the tree above and below the nest and then a crane was used to lower the piece of tree and nest onto a flatbed truck.”
The nests were then transported to a storage yard where they’ll remain for a few months until their new home is ready.
“Bald eagle nests are only removed when absolutely necessary,” said Greg Scarborough, Site C’s director of environmental programs. “This work is always done outside of the critical nesting period when the nests are deemed inactive by a qualified professional, and in accordance with the B.C. Wildlife Act.”
Later this winter, the nests will be installed onto the newly built eagle nesting platforms and watched to see if bald eagles return to the nests.
Once construction is complete, crews will continue to monitor these nests, and others in the Peace River Valley for the first 10 years of dam operations.