World’s Largest Eagle Migration Happens In BC

Last Updated on November 27, 2022

This post was first published in 2020 and has been updated to reflect the eagle migration of 2022.

World’s Largest Eagle Migration Happens In British Columbia

Did you know that the largest bald eagle migration in the world happens in British Columbia?

Picture this: the skies of British Columbia are alive during this annual rite of nature, where over 35,000 eagles pass through the lower Fraser Valley from late October until February. This is the world’s biggest eagle migration, a truly incredible spectacle!

You will look around finding dozens of eagles perched in the trees lining the shore, only to realize as you glance around that there are actually hundreds.  You will look up into the sky and see a couple of eagles soaring around, and suddenly there a dozen or more. It is incredible enough to see one eagle, but to see a convocation of eagles in a tree or soaring in the skies is a special sight.

For those lucky enough to witness the event, it is easy to be moved by the sheer majesty and power of these wild birds during their spectacular journey. Taking advantage of abundant salmon spawning, the eagles especially flock to the area of Harrison Mills, a town within the Harrison River Valley, and a short drive from the famous area of Harrison Hot Springs. Watching eagles soar against the backdrop of majestic mountain ranges and witnessing bald eagles fish in large numbers around the Chehalis Flats can only be described as awe-inspiring; a reminder that wildlife still thrives in many areas of our planet.

The fact that such grand migrations are still possible after centuries of human influence speaks volumes about how vital it is for us all to take responsibility for protecting our environment for future generations to enjoy.

The peak time for eagle spotting is in the middle of December.

We love taking the time to honor the majestic bald eagle and the cycle of the salmon. It’s things like this that truly show how beautiful British Columbia’s wild places really are!

Why British Columbia?

Every year, bald eagles travel to the waters of British Columbia to feast on the salmon that spawn there. This migration is one of the largest gatherings of bald eagles in the world, and it provides a unique opportunity to see these majestic birds up close.  During this time, the eagles can be seen perching in trees, flying overhead, and even fishing in the river. With a little patience and luck, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of an eagle swooping down to snatch a fish out of the water. If you’re looking for an up-close encounter with nature, make sure to keep an eye out for the bald eagles during the migration in British Columbia.

The Fraser River is 850 miles long and is the largest producer of sockeye salmon in the world.  The eagles travel from northern BC, Alaska, and the Yukon as their food supply freezes. BC’s temperate Fraser Valley is where five species of salmon spawn. The Eagles have a big feast on the salmon that have returned to complete nature’s final duty, dying shortly after and creating food for the eagles.

Being able to witness the world’s largest eagle migration in our own backyard is special. 

In British Columbia, residents and visitors alike can be rewarded with an up-close experience with nature like no other – an unforgettable reminder that we are blessed to be able to witness such magnificence in our everyday lives. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself visiting BC during the eagle migration, don’t miss out on the chance to see it!

Eagles really are fascinating. They fly with wings that are as wide as we are high. It really puts into perspective just how big the sky is when we need binoculars or a telephoto lens to be able to get a better glimpse of its majestic beauty.

Best Places To Go Eagle Watching

Chehalis Flats 

The Chehalis Flats are a hot spot for eagles in the winter months. These majestic birds congregate here by the hundreds, drawn by the abundant fish in the Chehalis River. The Flats offer an ideal vantage point for eagle watching, as the birds often perch in the tall trees along the riverbank. In addition, the open space makes it easy to spot eagles in flight, hunting for their next meal. If you are looking to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures, head to the Chehalis Flats during the winter months and enjoy some of the best eagle-watching around.

The Chehalis Harrison system is said to be the strongest salmon river in all of Canada. The eagles depend on the flats to be able to survive the Fall and Winter months. The flats are a resting and feeding area, so being able to sit and socialize without being bothered is extremely important to their survival.  Only watch the eagles from the shore. Quality outdoor gear is essential to great eagle viewing from a distance.

You can find a map that outlines the Chehalis Flats and the best viewpoints here.

Fraser River & Lougheed Highway 7

The Fraser River is another of the most popular eagle-viewing spots in British Columbia. Every year, thousands of eagles flock to the river to feast on the salmon that spawn there. To get the best views, head to Lougheed Highway 7, which runs alongside the river. There are several lookout points along the highway where you can pull over and watch the eagles in action. There were plenty of cars lining the highway between fishermen and those searching to get a peek at the masses of eagles. Chances are you will notice the plethora of cars before you really notice any eagles in the distance.

Be sure to bring your best camera lenses and some binoculars!

When we have been eagle spotting, we had great luck pulling over to the side of the road while driving along the Fraser River on the Lougheed Highway 7.

Sandpiper Golf Resort

If you’re looking for an unforgettable wildlife experience, a trip to the Sandpiper Resort should be at the top of your list. A destination for eagle lovers from all around, the resort has been designated a prime bald eagle viewing destination to see eagles soaring over cliff faces and fishing for tasty salmon in nearby waters.

On our last visit, we were thrilled to witness more than 100 eagles enjoying the Chehalis Flats or roosting in trees overhead – quite a sight to behold!

Enjoy a forest walk to watch the eagles soar from the Eagle Observation Deck. Do not be alarmed when along the forest path to the observation deck you find pieces of previously enjoyed salmon or even the leftover bones . The eagles can be seen roosting in the trees, soaring above the fairways, and fishing in the nearby waters.

We also stayed in one of the three-bedroom luxury cabins on Sandpiper Resort property, and the eagle viewing from the cabin deck was outstanding as well – eagle after eagle flew by, or perched on one of the trees. The Sandpiper Resort (Rowena’s Inn On The River) is by far the best place to stay when you’re enjoying the eagle migration. However, you do not have to be staying on the property to stop by and take the walk to the Eagle Observation Deck!

Here is a great map of the property so that you can find your way around. While you are there, you could also take in some Fall golf while surrounded by the largest eagle gathering in the world.

Kilby Park

A stunning scene quickly unfolds on this beach as thousands of dead spawn salmon wash up onto the shore. It’s a buffet for the eagles, which can be seen circling overhead or perched in nearby trees, keeping a watchful eye until they get the opportunity to swoop down and feast. There are so many salmon that there are more than enough to go around – even after the eagles have had their fill, plenty will remain for other creatures like seagulls, and crows.

From below, the sound of wings flapping and talons digging into sandy patches fills the air. It’s an incredible reminder of how nature provides, not just for man, but for all living things. The dead-spawned salmon have brought a bounty to this beach; something that will likely never be forgotten now or in times to come. Indeed, there is beauty in both life and death!

Eagles Remove Eyeballs First

When you’re viewing the eagle migration, you will quickly notice that Eagles are impressive predators, known for their razor-sharp talons and exceptional hunting abilities.

One of the more unique skills that eagles possess is the ability to quickly and effectively remove the eyes from salmon. Noted for hundreds of years by Native Alaskan cultures, this act has become part of the natural order in parts of North America.

The process begins when a bald eagle spots a fresh fish flopping in mid-air. In a matter of seconds, the eagle swoops down and pecks out one eye then waits for the fish to hit the water before finishing off the other with an accurate dive bomb. Once they’ve done so, they can enjoy their meal without having to shake it back into submission after each bite or worrying about losing any leverage due to slippery scales.

This cunning move illustrates yet another way in which these majestic birds have adapted uniquely to their changing environment over countless generations. Such resourcefulness helps ensure that they will continue to play a vital role in maintaining a balance between predatory species long into the future.

All in all, it’s safe to say that eagles have once again proven themselves as apex predators with only a few equals in nature.  ​

Where Do Eagles Nest In BC?

Bald Eagles are a bit indiscriminate with regard to nesting spots and may be found in just about any tree or structure provided it gives them the best vantage point for observing potential prey below.

To maximize your chances of actually seeing a bald eagle, it is important to know when is the best time for eagle viewing. Generally, the best time of day to view bald eagles is dawn or dusk. At this time, they are likely to be out looking for food and soaring around their habitat. Eagles also tend to stay in flocks during these times, which makes them easier to spot. Midday can also be an excellent time to observe eagles as they rest in shady trees or swoop over open water looking for prey.

No matter what time you choose to observe bald eagles, it is important to give them plenty of space and respect their right to have some peace. With a bit of luck and some patience, you’ll soon be able to see these majestic birds in all their glory.

All About Eagles – Did You Know?

  • Eagles mate for life. There are several caveats to that, though. If a partner dies, the surviving eagle will find a new mate.
  • Some Eagles even have triad partnerships that could be a combination of two males and one female or, two females and one male. In this situation, the nest holds the combined eggs, and the birds jointly take care of the eggs and young.
  • The bald eagle is found almost entirely in North America.
  • The call of the Eagle sounds like a high-pitched tweet; not a loud scream that you would expect to come from such a large bird.
  • Eagles fly at 30 to 40 mph and dive at 100mph.

  • Eagles have ridiculously good eyesight. They can see their smaller prey, like rabbits, two miles away! As they fly their vision stays in focus, despite the changing depths. This 20/5 vision makes them able to see four to five times better than humans!
  • The bald eagle became the national bird of the United States in 1782.
  • Most birds achieve the classic adult white head and tail feathers between their 4th and 5th year.
  • When eagles fly to BC from Alaska, it is a downhill flight. Instead of having to flap their wings to fly, they are able to glide downward on the rising air.
  • Eagles have much better eyesight than people; seven times better!  They can see forward and sideways at the same time.
  • Eagles live for a long time. Up to 80 percent of eagles, unfortunately, die from accidents or starvation before they reach the age of maturity. Those that do make it, however, live for 15 to 25 years. There have even been records of eagles living longer than 30 years in the wild, and nearly 50 years in captivity.
  • Bald Eagles are big birds. Females are bigger and can reach 43 inches long with an 8-foot wingspan, and weigh around 14 pounds. Males are 25 percent smaller and only weigh around 10 lbs. Since females are larger than males, it is more difficult for them to maneuver as well during the flight.
  • The size of eagles can vary depending on the region, however, Alaskan bald eagles are usually the largest.
  • Young eagles can appear to be bigger than their parents, but this is due to their fledging feathers. These feathers act sort of like training wheels while the eagle needs some extra help while learning to fly.
  • These gorgeous, regal birds have an impressive wingspan of almost eight feet. Stretch your arms out wide to get a visual of how big these birds are.
  • Eagles can carry about three or four pounds. However, the weight they can carry also depends on how fast the eagle is flying. An eagle attacking with a lot of momentum will be able to carry a load greater than if they land on the beach to grab a fish.
  • Eagles are able to catch fish and perch on branches with their sharp talons – one faces backward and three forwards.
  • Eagle nests are massive! Eagles will use the same nest for years. Since they continually add to them, their dwellings can grow up to nine feet deep and weigh two tons!
  • Eagles look very awkward when they are swimming.  However, they are excellent swimmers! They use their wings to perform their version of the breaststroke as they try to bring a large fish to shore.
  • Larger fish and waterfowl are their meals of choice. They will also eat smaller mammals, such as prairie dogs, rabbits, raccoons, and rats.
  • Eagles are known to steal kills from other eagles, hawks, and ospreys.

Related StoryHarrison Hot Springs, Christmas Cheer, And Bald Eagle Migration

The Season Of The Wild

The Season of the Wild reveals the journey of wildlife in Harrison River Valley, including salmon, sturgeon, and bald eagles. As the salmon return to the waterways from the ocean, they enter the end of their lifecycle and become easy prey for bald eagles. These predators congregate by the thousands in wintertime, leading to the world’s largest gathering of bald eagles. You’ll see a flurry of activity as the salmon splash around in the water, and you might even spot a few eagles or other birds of prey swooping down to catch them. Furthermore, Season of the Wild will provide you with an opportunity to learn about another one of the ocean’s gargantuan creatures: the white sturgeon.

Get to know the wild of the Harrison River Valley by booking a memorable wildlife getaway package.

Eagle Viewing Etiquette

Eagle viewing is an incredibly popular pastime, offering nature lovers the chance to observe these majestic birds up close and in the wild. However, it’s important to remember that eagle viewing comes with a certain amount of responsibility: without proper etiquette, we can disrupt their natural habitats and behaviors.

Some basic rules for eagle-watching include never getting too close or causing a disturbance; avoiding utilizing flash photography.

Also, be sure to take all your trash away with you and leave no trace. Following these guidelines will ensure that everyone enjoys eagle watching safely and respectfully – both humans and eagles alike!


Have you ever had a great eagle sighting in the wild? Tell us about it below! 


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