Results for the 36th Brackendale Winter Eagle Count: January 9, 2022

The January 9, 2022 Eagle Count was our second count organized within COVID_19 safety guidelines. Originally scheduled for January 2, it was postponed because of extreme winter weather conditions.

Brackendale Art Gallery, the traditional headquarters, was home base again this year, with only a few people present. Some volunteers downloaded their count packages and submitted them online. Most picked up packages outside the Gallery and returned their counts the same way. No need for a canopy this year!

54 volunteers with previous experience were assigned to cover 18 areas to be counted, from the Upper Squamish to downtown Squamish, and from Paradise Valley to the Stawamus River. In the few days just before the count we had more snow and significant amounts of freezing rain, so despite warmer temperatures and clear blue skies the counters were challenged. They encountered deep, crusted snow covered with fresh powder, fallen branches and lots of ice. Counters at the Ashlu reported frozen spawning channels and had to make their way through 1 metre of powder. Some even reported being waist-deep in snow despite snowshoes.

The raft provided by Squamish Rafting covered the Pilchuk to Cheakamus and Baynes Island zones. Road access by car ended at the BC Hydro power station. Fortunately, No Limits Motorsports had donated a snowmobile and trailer for the day, and this meant that a counter could get much further up the valley.

The final count was 799. Not all areas could be counted. This total was lower than last year’s count of 848, lower than the 36-year average of  1374 eagles and well below 1994’s record count of 3769. However, given all the difficult weather the eagles have experienced this year, we are pleased with the result. There were fewer eagles in the Upper Squamish this year, perhaps because of the frozen channels which prevented them from finding food there.

All the snow meant counters saw lots of animal tracks: deer, coyote, bobcat, otter, squirrels, and even mice. A volunteer along the Cheakamus spotted a bobcat, and another saw a coyote near Judd Slough.

One volunteer reported “I’d say the most interesting thing of the day was how happy folks were with the day – regardless of how many eagles they saw. I think everybody came back smiling, so regardless of the numbers it had to be ‘counted’ as a great success.”

Christopher Di Corrado, the Eagle Count organizer, has asked us to extend big thanks to:

  • the volunteers who worked extra hard in challenging conditions,
  • the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish People) for granting access to their lands for the count,
  • Squamish Rafting Company owner Hazzard Roney and guide Will Grauer, the hearty soul who rowed the river, enabling volunteers to count two key areas from the water,
  • No Limits Motorsports for the use of a snowmobile and trailer,
  • Thor and Dorte Froslev who made Brackendale Art Gallery available once again, and
  • Glenne Campbell for her work organizing the rafters.

See more information about the story of the Brackendale Winter Eagle Count, including detailed results for years since 1986. 

Photo above by Christopher Di Corrado: Volunteers picking up packages at Brackendale Art Gallery.