Turn your eyes to the skies (or the trees) to see nature at its finest.
Do you have an eye for eagles? This time of year is the time to turn your binoculars skyward to catch a glimpse of our national symbol. Bald eagles are on their annual migration from Canada to Mexico, and they will stop over in Colorado for rest and a fish buffet.
"Why do so many eagles migrate into Colorado? It's simple. The state's relatively mild winters and trout-stocked waters are an open invitation to this fish-eating bird," relates ColoradoBirdingTrail.com.
Colorado currently has over 100 pairs of nesting bald eagles that call the state home during the warmer months. That number significantly increases from October to March during migration.
"It is not unusual to find pockets of 10 to 100+ birds roosting near rivers, lakes, and reservoirs," says ColoradoBirdingTrail.com.
The American Bald Eagle was once near extinction due to hunting, pollution, and habitat loss. In 1976, the species was listed as endangered, and thanks to efforts, bald eagles were downlisted to threatened in 1995.
Here are a few tips for viewing eagles this time of year:
- Search for them near large, fish-stocked bodies of water with trees close by.
- You are most likely to see them at sunset and sunrise.
- Bring binoculars. Eagle's have ...well ... eagle eyes, so they will see you before you see them and don't like people too close.
- If you can see them from your vehicle, stay there. Your car will act as a blind.
- Bald eagles tend to perch during cold weather, so you may have a better chance of seeing them on chilly days.
And here a few spots you might check out in your quest for eagle viewing:
- Barr Lake State Park: Come check out the eagles, from juveniles to adults, on your own or attend the Bald Eagle Festival on February 1 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
- Fossil Creek Reservoir Natural Area: Eagle watches take place from 3:30–5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays until February 1. Fridays and Saturdays, February 2–16 watch hours are 4–5:30 p.m.
- John Martin Reservoir: This water body is host to several roosting eagles every winter.
- Standley Lake Regional Park: Home to two bald eagle nests, you can often see them on a visit, or you can join Bald Eagle Discovery events on Feb. 8, March 14 and April 11, all at 10 a.m.
- Westminster Eagle Cam: If you can't get outside, you can still check out these majestic birds.
- Xcel Energy Eagle Cams (Fort St. Vrain Station in Platteville): Eagles generally build their nest, incubate eggs, and raise young from late January through July. At last check (1/24/20, 1 p.m.), I didn't see anything on the camera (though they could be out foraging for nest material). Will you be the first to see them come home to roost?
Many of these locations offer special events and classes. Park passes or entrance fees may be required.
Have you gone eagle viewing in Colorado? If you'd like to share your favorite spots, let us know in the comments below!