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Eaglefest at Barr Lake State Park – Saturday, February 4, 2023

February 4, 2023


An article in “Out There Colorado” , an online magazine greeted me this morning.. Before getting to the article readers are forced to look at a big boobed woman for five seconds, long enough, five full seconds, to make one wonder if the magazine simply uses an article about eagles to sell soft porn or the contrary, it senses that a soft porn photo is the passport to an article on eagles. As at my age (and actually long before), I am far more interested in eagles than soft porn, I find such advertising both invasive and annoying. Furthermore, the article itself is pretty skimpy. Even the Denver Post, a newspaper owned by a financial gazillionaire with $$$ to burn. Even the Post’s stories on eagles in Colorado have been better than this.Here is the piece in its entirety; not much here:

An eagle migration combined with frigid weather has greatly increased the likelihood that Coloradans will be able to spot bald eagles over the next couple weeks – if they know where to look. Each year, from November to March, more than 1,000 bald eagles migrate to the state, joining Colorado’s roughly 200 nesting pairs. Not only does this mean that there are many more eagles to see during the winter months, weather-related factors can also make them easier to spot.

Yes, the eagles are back in Colorado, not in numbers anywhere near what are found along the Atlantic, Pacific coasts and along the course of the Mississippi River from its headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, but still in ample numbers. Globally, Audubon estimates the worldwide population of bald eagles to be about 200,000. However this figure is hardly accurate as it is admitted that the actually range of bald eagle numbers varies from 50,000 to 500,000, another way of saying that professional birders actually have no idea of the actual number other than it is a lot.

The estimated number given for Colorado balds is about 1000 this time of year but there have been some suggestions that the number this year is lower as a result of avian flue which has hit the raptor population hard. As elsewhere, in the Rocky Mountain state, eagles huddle along rivers, creeks and ponds that tumble down from the mountains, especially along the S. Platte River north of Denver that flows in a northeasterly direction. It is along this corridor that over the more than half century living in Colorado that I have seen eagles. Barr Lake, where I’m headed this morning to meet Molly, one of our daughters, to attend Barr Lake’s “Eaglefest”.


Eaglefest was a great success. Don’t know the numbers but wouldn’t be surprised if hundreds, if not a few thousands of people stopped by Barr Lake this morning. Whole families, plenty of people with cameras and golf cart with cars attached for those who preferred to ride, or who couldn’t walk, the 1.3 miles to the gazebo on the south end of Barr Lake. It sticks out into the lake several hundred feet and from there the view of the birdlife – mostly ducks and eagles – is usually spectacular. But Barr Lake is still mostly frozen and both the ducks and their raptor predators are more likely found on the creeks feeding into the South Platte River and on the river itself. Still, quite the view from the gazebo with majestic Long’s Peak erupting in the background. Dramatic. In the small area about 200 yards into the lake from the gazebo Canada Geese and ducks in the hundreds sit quietly. A lone female Northern Harrier watches the ducks for signs of weakness, feebleness. With a good pair of binoculars an eagle is spotted off in the distance, at least a half mile away, looking out at the mountains.

People in droves are present. I am glad to see them, like me, simply there to enjoy whatever is to be seen. There are days when I have seen far more – actually dozens of – eagles here. Today a few fly by, there appears to be two or three way off in the distance parched on distant trees. Still, a lovely day to be out enjoying what nature has to offer. There is a couple next to me, I am guessing about my age. The male of the two has a good eye and seems to see an eagle way off in the distance towards the mountains that I had missed. Yep, he nailed it (photo below). and we talk. The couple live in Sugar Loaf above Boulder; he owned a fleet of small busses that make 18-19 trips a day from Boulder to the airport, just sold the business and now hikes, rides horses and skis in retirement. We strike up a conversation. At the gazebo, a man who I would guess is about my age (late 70s) approaches me. He does ‘social media” and wants to interview me because I “look like someone who comes out here [to Barr Lake] often.’ I agree to the interview that consisted of a few general questions of why I come out to Barr Lake (to get off my butt and away from this computer) with the kicker question about Climate Change. I wonder why it is I “look like I come out to Barr Lake often”? .. But answer his questions and then move on. We’ll see if he publishes the interview and if so, I’ll post it.

Molly broke her ankle a few months ago and today has laryngitis. She make the mile and a third walk to the gazebo walkway and sits on a bench. It’s the longest walk she’s done since her accident. She seemed fine, other than, as a result of laryngitis the poor woman has to listen to me pontificate on various subjects to which she can only give a thumbs up or down. Still very pleasant day.

If you look carefully, there is a bald eagle, very small but clearly there in the photo

2 Comments leave one →
  1. William Watts permalink
    February 4, 2023 5:18 pm


  2. tim mccarthy permalink
    February 6, 2023 10:18 am

    a mature and two immature bald eagles on Jim Baker reservoir this week

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