A Little Background Information

The annual eagle watch held in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia has been attracting thousands of visitors to this little farming community for several years now.
A Video I Made On The Sheffields Mills Eagle Watch, Annapolis Valley, NS

Only in North America can you find the bald eagle soaring through the skies looking for food. Once considered a pest by farmers, these birds of prey were hunted and shot ruthlessly. The use of pesticides and toxic pollutants was also largely responsible for the declining numbers of eagles.

It has only been lately that human-kind has turned around and they have now started to protect these incredible birds. Kings County, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia has become one of the largest contributors to re-establishing these majestic birds up to comfortable numbers. The availability of food and plenty of good trees for their nest or just to perch on while looking for food are big factors for this.
A Eagle Staring Down at Me at the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch
Eagles first started visiting Kings County during the winter months to feed on shellfish found along the Bay of Fundy mud flats. Eastern Kings County is home to approximately 90% of the Poultry Producers in Nova Scotia and local farmers started to compliment the eagle’s diet by throwing chicken scraps out in their fields. Although a bird of prey, the eagles were not about to pass up a free meal. The birds would soon learn just when to gather for feeding times and would start showing up in big numbers.

As the number of eagles gathering for feeding time grew, many people would come to the area to see them. More and more came until the idea of a special Eagle Watch was set up in Sheffield Mills. Today the area holds the record for the largest wintering population of Bald Eagles in North America with over 500 birds recorded. Thousands of people from all over North America come each winter to view, photograph and capture the beautiful sight of these birds in their artwork.

The Sheffield Mills annual Eagle Watch has grown in size each year. The eagles are in the area from late November until early March, but January and early February have proven to be the best times to view the birds. The best time of the day seems to be mid to late morning during the time when the local farmers are throwing out the chicken scraps.
Pancake Breakfast at the Eagle Watch in Sheffield Mills, Annapolis Valley, NS
The Eagle Watch goes on for three weekends. The first day of the watch is always exciting with a pancake & sausage breakfast, live entertainment all day, and a great lunch and a supper put on. There is always a festive atmosphere in the area as hundreds come out to speculate on this years sightings and revive and talk about sightings from past years.

This is all held in the Sheffield Mills Community Centre located at 98 Black Hole Road, close to Canning. For only a dollar you may go upstairs in the Community Center and view several displays about many types of raptors. These include videos, photographs and plenty of arts and crafts including carvings, paintings, stained glass and metal works. You will always find plenty of enthusiastic naturalists there more than willing to talk about these great birds.

My Eagle Watch Experience

Two Eagles Wait in a Tree in Annapolis Valley Eagle Watch
It was the first day of the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch. Before I started working on this web site I had not heard about this event. But after I found out about it, I started doing some research. I was really excited about going to see the eagles, but then I do love all wild life.

It was a cold day, about minus 15 degrees Celsius, but I dragged out my old cadet clothes and tried them on. I used to be a cadet instructor in Saskatchewan and we always went on an overnight winter exercise in January. If those clothes kept me warm then, they should keep me warm here. I just wasn't making much of a fashion statement with them on, but I did not think the eagles would mind.

My sister, Judy came with me and we got on the road about 8 a.m. as planned. We wanted to get to the sites between 9 - 10 a.m. as I was told this was a good time to catch the eagles feeding. I found the road alright, it was a little snow covered, but not bad. Before we knew it we were at the information site to pick up our map showing where to find the eagles.
The Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch draws a crowd each year.
This was the start of things going wrong. When I tried to take a picture at the information site I found my batteries had gone dead. No problem I thought, I had checked last night and my spare batteries were in the case. Problem, those batteries were dead also, just my luck. Judy offered to share her pictures, but I had wanted to try out the telephoto lens on my camera and this was going to be the perfect chance.

So I turned around and headed back into New Minas to buy new batteries. I was amazed at how many vehicles I met heading toward the eagle watch, this was really a well attended event.

So the batteries are bought and we are heading back towards Sheffield Mills and the eagles. We were heavy in conversation, and the first thing I noticed was that I did not recognize any of the surroundings we were going by. I missed a turn somewhere, what a day. While Judy referred to the map to try to see where we were, I looked for a place to turn around.
A Lone Eagles at the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch, Annapolis Valley
However as I rounded a corner I noticed a batch of cars stopped along the road and then Judy seen the eagles. I pulled over, we got our cameras out and headed across the field a ways to see better. There were a lot of people already there.

I snapped a couple of pictures before I mounted my camera onto the tri-pod. I zoomed in on one of the eagles who was out in the open and got a couple of good shots, but I noticed people were going even closer. So I picked up my camera and walked a few yards ahead and then set it up again.

One more picture and then a big gust of wind blew moving my camera a bit. I tried to find the eagle again through my view finder but could not see it at all. I backed the zoom off and still could not find the bird, so I looked up. No wonder I could not see the eagle, some people had gone too close and scared all of the eagles away. It was then that I noticed I had forgot to put on my gloves and my fingers were frozen stiff, so I headed back to the car.
Lower cell
Everybody was now leaving and there was no place to turn around so I ventured farther down the road I was on. Shortly we came to an intersection and Judy tried to find us on the map, but then a car came up behind us, so I just turned left and continued on the way.

We had not gone very far when we could see eagles in the sky, lots of eagles. There was only one other car there, but as I parked and got my equipment out of the car more people were stopping. I headed up to the top of the hill and was just amazed at how many eagles were either flying around or in the trees around the field. They were everywhere; I would guess there had to be over fifty different eagles there, maybe even closer to seventy five.

We had hit the perfect place and the perfect time. I guess luck was with us by my batteries being dead and then we getting lost. We may not have found this place otherwise.
A Tree Full of Eagles at the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch, NS
I was there almost three quarters of an hour snapping pictures. Judy had stayed back by the car and used her binoculars to view the eagles. Feeling that she may be getting cold I finally dragged myself away and headed back towards the car. Even though I still had forgotten my gloves I was not that cold this time.

Judy thought she knew where we were now and we continued on down this road. The next crossroad proved us wrong though, but we got our bearings and seen we were not too far from Kingsport. There was supposed to be another eagle watch spot there so off we went. The winter scenery was nice but we did not see any more eagles all the way there.

So I took a few pictures of the ice in the Minas Basin and then we headed back. The drive back was different than the one there. We did see eagles, not as many as in the last field, but enough to stop and take a few more good pictures. We felt our Eagle Watch experience had been a good one today. We decided it was time to head to the Sheffield Mills Community Centre to see what was going on there.
Some of the Artworks at Eagle Watch, Annapolis Valley, Sheffield Mills

This year, the 17th Annual Eagle Watch, they are holding the very first annual Invitational Art Show featuring the work of local artist. Besides the many great displays about the annual Eagle Watch you will have the chance to view some very nice works of art from local artist.

They have videos, pamphlets, posters and real articles pertaining to eagles on display. You may purchase many souvenirs there also like books, collector pins and beautiful photos.
Downstairs was full as many people enjoyed the pancake and sausage breakfast. While you eat you may enjoy the music of several different bands and performers during the day. Later they also were serving a lunch and then a supper.

If you miss the first day of the Eagle Watch, do not worry because Sunday is just as exciting again with the pancake & sausage breakfast, meals, entertainment and all the displays. The second weekend is more of the same events going on, and the third weekend will still have the displays available to view. Of course there is always the eagles out for your viewing pleasure every day.

Make sure you pick up your map which shows the many viewing sights. You may pick these up at the information sight or at the Community Centre. I recommend this event to anyone, bring the whole family. Please remember that you are on private property and respect the land and the eagles. You should also make every effort to park where you are not disturbing traffic from getting by.

To find the Sheffield Mills Community Centre just take exit 12 off the 101 Highway and follow the blue eagle signs. There are also signs for anyone coming through Greenwich, New Minas or Kentville.

After viewing the eagles in the morning, make sure to take in the other events being held in the area like local winery tours or the eagle nest webcam and historic walk at Noggins Corner Farm.

If you are interested in taking in the Sheffield Mills Eagle Watch this year make sure to check the special Eagle Watch Web Page to find dates and events for this year.