Eagle Watch 2019 at Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia
The wind is bitter cold. The hour is early. Standing quietly in the snow and ice waiting for the eagles to arrive will certainly result in frozen toes and fingers. But watching dozens of bald eagles leave their perches in the tree tops to soar over a snow covered field is an experience you won’t want to miss.
Nova Scotia is the largest winter home of bald eagles in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Bald eagles are regular visitors to the fields surrounding the dozens of chicken farms in the Annapolis Valley. But on two weekends in late January/early February, the village of Sheffield Mills holds the official Eagle Watch festival.
This rural farming community in the Annapolis Valley has become a winter destination for bird enthusiasts, photographers, locals and tourists trying to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds.
Local resident Malcolm Lake arrives for the first feeding at 8 a.m. with bins of chicken carcasses and scraps donated by local chicken farmers. After driving out into the middle of the windswept, frozen field, he hauls several buckets of chicken carcasses across the field and scatters them from the top of the hill to the lower field near the trees. Dozens of dark shapes - bald eagles, crows and other birds of prey, all watch from the treetops, waiting for their breakfast..
Within minutes of the farmer’s departure, the field becomes a feeding ground for dozens of bald eagles. The eagles swoop in to grab the chicken carcasses - some without even touching down. Other eagles land on the frozen ground to skirmish over the same carcass.
Visitors stand at the edge of the field, taking photos and simply watching the majestic birds in awe, until lured away by thoughts of warmth and a pancake breakfast. The Sheffield Mills pancake breakfast is served at the historic Sheffield Mills Community Hall, a century old two room schoolhouse. The pancakes with local syrup and sausages are served up by volunteers in the crowded hall and accompanied by live music. It’s a busy place. In the four mornings of the Eagle Watch this year, the volunteers served 2036 pancake breakfasts. Upstairs, you can visit the Blomidon Naturalists Society Display of birds of prey and purchase Eagle art and other crafts.
It’s cold. It’s early. But it’s an experience you will never forget.
Click on the images below for a better look.
Visit http://www.sheffieldmills.org/ for information on Eagle Watch 2020.