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Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival set to soar

The 20th annual Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival and Count is coming to Brackendale and organizer Thor Froslev is excited to proclaim January eagle month.

The 20th annual Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival and Count is coming to Brackendale and organizer Thor Froslev is excited to proclaim January eagle month.

International bald eagle authority David Hitchcock, will kick start the first weekend of the festival with his slide show on Saturday night (Jan. 7) at 8 p.m. at the Brackendale Art Gallery.

Sunday (Jan. 8) Squamish's eagle count takes place on the Brackendale dike. While the count is not open to the public, everyone is welcome to come to the gallery starting at 9 a.m. to be on hand while the numbers come in throughout the day.

Hitchcock has been working with eagles since 1958 and has been speaking at the Brackendale Winter Eagle

Festival and Count for the past six years. His talk will feature a discussion on eagle numbers, the recent success of the bird and the biology of the bird. He will also be presenting a photographic slide show.

Hitchcock, who travels to several eagle counting events throughout North America including one in early November in the Chilkat Valley of Alaska and one in late November in Harrison B.C., said both of the earlier festivals showed high numbers of bird counts and he is hoping to see large numbers of eagles in Brackendale this year.

He said Squamish holds the record for the largest number of bald eagles to ever be counted and he enjoys coming to the Brackendale festival.

"It is a beautiful place to view the eagles and the biggest one for this region," he said.

"You never know what is going to happen."

Hitchcock also praised Froslev for the job he does in organizing the event.

"Thor does an incredible job of rallying the troops," he said.

Froslev, who is also the founder and operator of the Brackendale Art Gallery, said Coun. Patricia Heintzman and Nina Rytter help make the event happen, along with the support and volunteers from the Brackendale Eagle Reserve Society, the Squamish Conservation Society, Brackendale Farmer's Institute and Tourism B.C.

A die-hard eagle enthusiast, Froslev is proud of the Eagle Festival, which Brackendale hosts because it adds to the tourism industry in Squamish.

"Eagles are my passion!" he said. "It is an incredible sight to see hundreds and thousands of these huge, beautiful birds."

Hitchcock's presentation is the first in a four part Natural World Lecture Series, which will be shown at the Brackendale Art Gallery through out the month of January. Entry to the lectures is by donation and will feature the photographic work of Roy Hamaguchi, Keith Thirkell abstract designer and author Dick Cannings.

Also throughout the festival there will be guided eagle walking tours hosted by Froslev, eagle art featured at the art gallery and an eagle photo contest that will close 4 p.m. Jan. 29.

Ongoing throughout the festival and beyond is the construction of the eagle tower at the art gallery.

Froslev approached architect and artist Henry York Mann three years ago with his vision of a tower, which would incorporate an eagle rehabilitation centre, research facilities and would leave room for expansion.

Mann said his design will be a focal point and will eventually show three eagles on each of the four sides.

"At first I was just designing a tower," said Mann. "But the more I got into it I realized we didn't just want a tower so I designed something to represent all of the artistic groups in Squamish, including First Nations influences."

Individuals are invited to take part in the vision of the eagle tower, which is being constructed by Froslev. Donations of $100 will pay for one of the 100 beams required to form the main structure of the tower. Donors will receive their name on beam as a sign of their support.

For more information about the events visit the Brackendale Art Gallery or call 604-898-3333.

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