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Cottonwood tree with bald eagle nest falls at Barr Lake

As of 2021, Barr Lake bald eagles have fledged 59 young eagles.

BRIGHTON, Colo. — For a second straight year, a cottonwood tree holding an active bald eagle nest at Barr Lake State Park blew down in a windstorm.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said the nesting tree likely fell on Wednesday, April 6 — nearly one year to the day when a nesting tree blew down in 2021.

A park volunteer first noticed the tree had fallen over and that was confirmed by park rangers. Because of the high water levels in the area where the nesting tree fell, no remnants of the nest or eggs have been discovered, CPW said.

> Above video: Standley Lake bald eagles hatch eaglets.

"It is with a heavy heart that we report that our eagle nesting tree fell down in the windstorms last week," said Barr Lake State Park Manager Michelle Seubert. "This was a new nest that they started this year after the other nesting tree fell last year. We are hopeful next year they will choose the tree we put our wire basket in. You just never know what mother nature has in store for us."

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
A side-by-side comparison of the bald eagle nesting tree, before and after, it blew down at Barr Lake State Park.

CPW said a second bald eagle nest at Barr Lake, on the opposite side of the reservoir as the other, appears to have failed with no adult eagles observed there over the last two weeks. However, several other nests in the area outside of Barr Lake State Park remain intact and active.

In November 2021, Barr Lake staff installed three nesting baskets in cottonwood trees to try to entice bald eagles to re-establish a new nest that is in view of the park's boardwalk gazebo. However, the bald eagles did not utilize these baskets this year.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Staff install nesting baskets in cottonwood trees to try to entice bald eagles to re-establish a new nest that is in view of the boardwalk gazebo.
Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Staff install nesting baskets in cottonwood trees to try to entice bald eagles to re-establish a new nest that is in view of the boardwalk gazebo.

Bald eagle nests are usually seven to eight feet across and in tall trees high above the ground and near water, according to CPW. Bald eagles often choose dead limbs in tall trees, possibly because their view is not obstructed by foliage.

A pair of bald eagles has been observed in Barr Lake’s wildlife refuge every year since 1986, according to CPW. The park's bald eagles have survived storms, the loss of nesting trees and even the disappearance of the male. After three years of failed attempts to raise young, the bald eagle pair was successful in 1989. 

As of 2021, Barr Lake bald eagles have fledged 59 young eagles.

Earlier this month, the Standley Lake bald eagles welcomed a new addition to their family, a year after their nest collapsed. It'll be another week or two before any eaglet peeks over the nest rim, so it's still unclear how many are in the nest. The eagle mama laid between one and three eggs.

An Xcel Energy eagle camera at Fort St. Vrain Station near Platteville has also captured bald eaglets this spring.

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