Jennifer Churchill CPW NE Region PIO
With Valentine’s Day approaching, Colorado Parks and Wildlife celebrates the breeding season of bald eagles as they return to their nests and prepare to have this year’s eaglets. Happily, Colorado’s bald eagle population continues to grow, from less than 5 nests in the 1970s to more than 170 today, 80 of which are along the South Platte River and its tributaries.
“The recovery of bald eagles is truly emerging as a success story,” said Mike Sherman, wildlife biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Through 30-year monitoring of these birds across the state, we are encouraged and heartened that the population is bouncing back and continuing upward.”
Scores of volunteers and staff from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other agencies have been involved in the bald eagle monitoring project for 30+ years spending countless hours monitoring nest activity, eaglet production, and gathering additional data for biologists.
In other good news, tolerance of Front Range nesting bald eagles to human activity has increased since Colorado Parks and Wildlife originally made guidelines which require no surface occupancy (beyond that which historically occurred in the area) within ¼ mile radius of active nests and no human encroachment from Nov. 15 through March 15 within ¼ mile radius of an active winter night roost.
Bald eagle nests can be seven to eight feet across, usually in tall trees high above the ground. They often choose dead limbs in tall trees, possibly because their view is not obstructed by foliage. Nests are often found near water. The female lays one to three eggs, which are dull white. The incubation period is about 35 days, with both the male and female keeping the eggs warm.
Front Range Coloradans interested in viewing and learning about bald eagles and their nests have two great opportunities through Lake Pueblo’s State Park’s Eagle Days Feb. 3-5 and Barr Lake State Park’s fifth Annual Eagle Festival Feb. 4.
Westminster Eagle Cam
For those who chose to wildlife watch from home, check out the City of Westminster’s Bald Eagle Cam at: http://www.ci.westminster.co.us/eaglecam.
–Bald eagles can have wingspans of up to 8’
–They can weigh as much as 12 lbs. and a body length up to 37” long with females slightly larger than males
–Their distinctive white feathers usually develop around the fourth year
–Pairs mate for life and often use the same nest, which can grow quite large
–Bald eagles can fly at altitudes of 10,000’ and up to speeds of up to 35 mph
–Can live as long as 30 years in the wild
–Locally, they mostly eat carrion, especially dead Canada geese, as well as fish and rodents
–Bald eagles can lift up to 4 lbs.
photo credit – Jim Bauer