Raptors and Herons in the Islands
|The islands offer sanctuary and habitat to a number of birds of prey, including Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, and a variety of hawk and owl species. The protagonist of many legends, birds of prey have long delighted generations of humans as they weave seamlessly between the worlds of land, sky and sea.
Why They Need Your Help
|Today, many of these species are at risk and in need of special consideration. Birds of prey need large, undisturbed nests to raise the next generation of their species. Nests are semi-permanent
|structures that represent a significant investment of a bird's energy. Resident birds establish a territory around a nest site with most pairs using the same site for their entire breeding life.
Large birds of prey are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, including noise during the breeding and nesting season.
Where You'll Find Nests
Eagles and other raptors usually nest at or near the top of large, older trees (usually Douglas-fir) within one kilometer of water. While herons in the Fraser Valley and elsewhere can live in large colonies, herons in the Island Trust Area frequently nest in trees in small colonies or single nests, sometimes near homes and businesses.
How to Protect Nests on Your Land
Identify and Protect
Before planning any development of your property, identify the location of any nest trees. Preserve large trees on your property for perching, and avoid draining or filling wetlands or coastal marshes and other shoreline habitats where birds may feed. Perching sites like jetties, log booms and coniferous trees should also be protected. Remember, as you make a home for yourself on this land, you'll likely find great joy watching these majestic birds soar above your property, fish, and raise multiple generations of young in the years to come. Protect their habitat now so they don't disappear.
The nests and trees of herons are protected year-round under the B.C. Wildlife Act; it is against the law to harm or destroy a bird's nest or nesting tree. You should also check with your local planner at the Islands Trust about Development Permit Areas or other bylaws that may require protection of nest trees or buffers in your area.
Establish a Surrounding Buffer
A protective vegetated buffer around a nest area will help reduce the negative impact of outside disturbance, and put a nesting pair at ease. The province of B.C. recommends a buffer of at least 300 m in undeveloped areas, 200 m in rural areas and 60 m in urbanized areas.
Avoid Disturbance and Noise
Limit human activity and loud noise near these areas, particularly during the breeding and nesting season when an additional "no disturbance" buffer is recommended. Blasting or other very loud noise should not occur closer than 1 km during nesting season.
- Bald Eagles: January to September
- Ospreys: April to August
- Herons: January 15 to September 15
Locate new trails, buildings and roads away from known nesting, perching and foraging areas.
Protect Permanently with a Conservation Covenant
You have done all you can to protect a raptor or heron nest on your land, but what will happen after you sell or pass on your land to someone else? A conservation covenant is a formal commitment you can make to protect natural habitat on your property. The covenant binds future owners to the same promises you made, meaning the landscape you've cared for remains protected forever. A covenant can protect all or part of a property. It typically doesn't protect individual trees, but can be used to protect a nest and buffering habitat. Covenanted properties with raptor or heron nests may also qualify for the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program.
Learn more about Conservation Covenants
Report People Mistreating Wildlife
It is an offense to possess, take, injure, molest, or destroy a bird or its eggs, or the nests of birds when occupied by a bird or egg (B.C. Wildlife Act, Section 34). If you witness someone on the islands violating wildlife protection laws, you can report these sightings to the B.C. Ministry of Environment's 'Report All Poachers and Polluters" hotline at 1-877-952-7277. Reports can also be made online. The free tip-line and online form lets you report wildlife abuse anonymously and without risk of confronting the offender.
For more information and helpful tips