Every fall millions of salmon return to the Harrison River to spawn. This natural wonder is matchd by an incredible migration of thousands of Bald Eagles who return annually to the Harrison Mills area to feast on the salmon once they have spawned.
To celebrate and honour this incredible natural wonder the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival started nearly 20 years ago. Centred in Harrison Mills area where the Harrison River widens and offers shallow gravel bars for the returning salmon it is possible to see up to 10,000 Bald Ealges feasting on salmon. While it is not possible to see the eagles directly from Harrison, Harrison Mills is only a short 20 minute drive away.
The eagles start to move into our area as soon as the dead salmon carcasses begin to appear in October. The Harrison River, now designated the first Salmon stronghold in BC, is home to all 5 species of salmon as well as steelhead and trout. As one of the great spawning areas, Harrison Mills can see hundreds of thousands of spawning salmon over an extend fall season. The Bald Eagle Festival weekend in November matches the build-up which peaks in December and wanes, as the salmon carcasses are eaten out, through January and February. What really drives the eagles to our area is the freezing up of the northern rivers – the eagles can’t get at the dead salmon under the ice. Southward the eagles come by the thousands and our incredibly productive Chehalis – Harrison River complex provides food for thousands of eagles, usually for months.
The eagles can shift locations from early morning to later in the evening and the “best” viewing spots can change throughout the day. One great way to stay warm and see large numbers of these incredible raptors is by booking on a river tour with either Harrison Eco Tours or Shoreline tours, with tours operating throughout the Bald Eagle viewing period. For land based eagle viewing there is Eagle Point, Pretty Estates & Tapadera Estates and Harrison River RV Resort, they all offer great viewing opportunities. For more information go to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival