British Columbia·Video

Eagle captures video selfie after snatching camera on Haida Gwaii

A Haida Gwaii man hoping to capture cool footage of birds feeding on a beach got that — and a lot more — when an eagle scooped up his GoPro and took flight.

James Williams set off a series of remarkable events when he attempted to video ravens and eagle on a beach

James Williams placed his GoPro near a pile of fish remains hoping to get some cool shots of ravens and eagles. (James Williams)

Birdseye views don't get any more authentic than the video selfie captured by a camera-snatching eagle on Haida Gwaii six weeks ago.

Camera owner James Williams only recently recovered the footage thanks to a lucky twist of fate.

It shows eagles flocking around a pile of fish remains on a Skidegate beach before talons appear, grasping the camera and then taking off skyward, over the beach and ocean.

"I was just blown away," said Williams.

GoPro captures eagle-eyed perspective

Eagle grabs camera and takes off

3 years ago
Duration 0:59
Haida Gwaii's James Williams was hoping to capture some cool video of birds. He got that - and more - when an eagle grabbed his camera and flew off.

"I had zero intentions of [the eagle] stealing my GoPro but that's the way it worked out. Now, I'm just pretty happy to have it back."

The series of events date back to June when Williams went fishing with his brother. After cleaning their catch, he put the heads and guts in a pile on the beach for ravens and eagles to feed on.

As usual, he also planted his GoPro nearby.

"This time I decided to move it just a little bit closer to hopefully get a better shot, and then I did my usual thing and walked away. Probably two or three minutes later about 30 to 50 eagles start swarming around. Then one swoops in and picks it up," he said.

"I tried a dash toward it to scare [the eagle] hoping it would drop it. But then all the other eagles jump up and I kinda lost it in the mix and it flew away."

The 'eagle cam' flew over the beach and water before being dropped. (James Williams)

Williams, 38, assumed the camera had been dropped in the ocean once the eagle discovered it wasn't edible.

But in a lucky twist, a house guest of his neighbour's happened to stumble across it earlier this week while walking on the beach.

James Williams is part of the Haida Nation's Eagle Clan and owner of Eagle Eye Cultural Tours in Skidegate. (James Williams)

The camera was muddied and cracked, but the SD card was still intact. By looking at clips, they were able to identify who it belonged to. 

Williams, a member of the Haida Nation Eagle Clan and owner of Eagle Eye Cultural Tours, can't help but feel there's a little eagle magic behind the way things turned out.

"I've been wondering about that the last couple of days," he said. "In fact, I've been debating going to buy a lottery ticket with this good luck."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?