Healthy eagle population along the Bow River is a treat for birdwatchers
CALGARY -- Conservationist and naturalist Brian Keating keeps a keen eye on Calgary's sky. He and his wife Dee often take their morning coffee in their cozy Inglewood backyard in-order to enjoy the tapestry of wildlife living along the Bow River.
As the owner of GreatBigNature.com, Keating is an experienced birdwatcher and he says this year has brought with it an abundance of birding opportunities.
"This last winter was exceptional and that's provided the food base for the bald eagle population."
Keating told CTV News that there are two different types of eagles in Alberta: golden eagles and bald eagles. "Golden eagles migrate out during the winter, (while) bald eagles stick around if there's open water and opportunities for food," Keating said. "Bald eagles primarily feed on fish, but they're opportunistic: they'll take ducks all winter and this winter has been excellent for ducks."
You don't have to look back very far in history to find a time when spotting an eagle in Calgary was a lot rarer.
Keating said,"Eagles were on the endangered species list in 1972 but by 2007 they were removed from that list because populations had come back successfully."
Keating believes this change is due in part to good education, conservation policies and the reduced use of DDT in pesticides.
"As time went on, the eagle population came back and we're seeing that in Calgary," he said. "It's a real success story."
According to Keating over this last winter some birdwatchers in the city were reportedly seeing up to 20 a day just walking along the Bow River pathways in Inglewood and other communities.
For those interested in getting into birdwatching, Keating has a couple of recommendations. "The most important thing you can get is a pair of binoculars and then a sense of curiosity," he said.
The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Calgary both offer birdwatching courses and online lectures, but Keating said, "One of the biggest keys to wildlife watching success is to just go with a bit of patience and go with an open mind and open ears."
"These animals, this wildlife is such a pleasure to watch especially during COVID times when we need to have that separation," he said. "It's an outdoor recreation, you can do it by yourself or with a small group and you can do it quite safely."