February is prime time for eagles in Colorado
Did you know that Colorado has more than 170 known active bald eagle nests and over 80 known active golden eagle nests? Valentine’s Day is almost here and it marks the height of eagle breeding season.
February is a good time to get out and see some of these majestic animals begin to build nests. Two species of eagles call Colorado home: the bald eagle and the golden eagle. The state’s eagle population has increased dramatically since the 1970s, when Colorado only had two documented nests of bald eagles. Multiple Colorado state parks offer eagle viewing opportunities, but Colorado’s Lake Pueblo and Barr Lake state parks both provide excellent habitat for eagles to winter and nest.
These parks provide two eagle viewing opportunities in early February: Barr Lake’s Fifth Annual Eagle Fest is Feb. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lake Pueblo’s 21st Annual 2017 Pueblo Eagle Days are Feb. 3 to 5.
Knowledge of the growing population of eagles in Colorado is due in part to successful Colorado Parks and Wildlife programs such as the raptor monitoring program, which is driven by “citizen scientist” volunteers. The program provides training on how to ethically observe eagles while respecting eagle habitat. Interested members of the public can learn more about the volunteer raptor monitoring program at Lake Pueblo Eagle Days or by visiting the CPW website. Volunteers monitor birds of prey in 24 state parks as well as other locations around the state.
“There are strong indications that some bald eagles are learning to tolerate increasing urbanization in their environment,” said Liza Rossi, CPW’s bird conservation coordinator. “Everything suggests that bald eagles will continue to do well and increase their presence in Colorado.”
Barr Lake State Park is also the headquarters of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. Its staff operates a bird banding station at Barr Lake as well as at Chatfield State Park and manages the Bald Eagle Watch and Hawkwatch citizen science programs, which monitor the success of birds of prey across the state. Rangers at Barr Lake work closely with this conservation partner to both protect and promote appreciation of the great outdoors.
“We provide designated accesses, like our gazebo boardwalk, where people can view the eagles’ nest from afar and not disturb their habitat,” said Barr Lake Park Manager Michelle Seubert. “It is a balance of providing wildlife viewing opportunities and protecting the natural resources.”
Eagles in the state are broadly distributed near river systems along the Front Range and on the Western Slope. These animals like large trees with accessible branches near bodies of water where they can watch for prey.
Written by Alicia Cohn. Cohn is a communications specialist for CPW and is an avid outdoorswoman.