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The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival

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The very popular annual Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival, which has been taking place since 1995, starts in the third weekend of November and lasts for 4 weekends. This is the time of year that salmon make their way back from the ocean through the Fraser River to the tributaries where their life started, to spawn and complete the circle of life. The dying fish make a tasty meal for the many hundreds of hungry bald eagles that return to the area every year for several months. 

 

The First Nations Peoples work with the Festival organizers to share their knowledge of the land, water and wildlife, gained over thousands of years, with visitors to the area. From Mission to Harrison Hot Springs, there are various sites set up where eagles can be watched up close through powerful binoculars. Also, there are boat tours, a Chehalis River walking tour, environmental presentations by naturalists and interpreters, historic aboriginal sites, and arts and entertainment. Through all its activities and viewing sites, the Festival offers a great opportunity to learn more about the eagles and also about the abundant spawning chinook, coho, chum, pink and sockeye salmon that draw them to the area.


If you’re new to the Bald Eagle Festival, it’s a good idea to first visit the Laq’a:mel First Nations Hall to check out the exhibitors and information there, which will help you plan the site visits. Some expeditions will need to be booked ahead of time.


A boat trip on the Harrison or Fraser River is a great way to view the eagles as they majestically soar through the sky, perch on a tree, or munch on their dinner along the river banks. Bring your binoculars to see the birds up close, and of course bring a good zoom-lens with your camera if you have one. Apart from the eagles and the salmon jumping out of the water, also watch for harbor seals.


Shoreline Tours and Charters (see listing) offers a 3 hour boat trip along the scenic Harrison River during the prime eagle-viewing months of October and November. The boat features an upper deck - where guests can hear the squeals of the seagulls and the distinctive call of the bald eagles - as well as a heated and comfortable lower deck - where you can get warm and enjoy a cup of steaming hot coffee of hot chocolate. Of course you’ll have the best viewing opportunities outside on the upper deck. Be sure to dress warm and bring rain gear if needed.

 

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