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Tragedy again strikes Colorado bald eagle pair

A pair of bonded bald eagles have suffered the loss of their offspring for a third-straight year.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A pair of bonded bald eagles at Standley Lake Regional Park has suffered another loss.

The Westminster park said its popular eagle nest fell Tuesday night.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the Standley Lake rangers said that after the fall, they found the bald eagle pair's baby eaglet deceased.

"Standley Lake Rangers and CPW staff did find one baby eaglet, and unfortunately, the Standley Lake bald eagle pair did lose their eaglet," the park posted on Facebook. "The eaglet was taken to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal for a proper burial."

The egg was first spotted in the pair's nest in February, and the eaglet was believed to be hatched within the last week.

"The Standley Lake Regional Park and Wildlife Refuge staff truly appreciates everyone's support and willingness to help since the bald eagle nest fell," said park officials. 

"We are in close contact with CPW and the Bird Conservancy discussing the best course of action. At this time, we all decided that the best thing we can do is to not intervene and let nature run its course. Bald eagles are incredibly sensitive to human disturbance, so by giving them the space they need during such a critical time of year, we hope they will rebuild another nest here at Standley Lake."

"In the meantime, we cannot accept funds, but we are exploring options for a more suitable place for them to create a nest."

The Standley Lake Regional Park and Wildlife Refuge staff truly appreciates everyone's support and willingness to help...

Posted by Standley Lake Regional Park on Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Standley Lake nest became well-known in recent years due to a live camera installed in 2016 that allowed anyone in the world to watch the eagles' daily lives.

However, tragedy has repeatedly befallen the nest with the couple also losing their offspring in 2021 and 2022.

In 2021, F420 and her beau suffered tragedy when the tree that supported their nest split down the middle, causing the nest to collapse and killing their lone offspring.

After the nest collapse, F420 and the father eagle settled into a nest deeper in the wildlife refuge where livestream cameras cannot reach. The park now has a distant live camera pointed at Bird Island in another area of the park.

In 2022, the pair's well-cared for eaglets were 2 to 3 weeks old when they died for unknown reasons.

There are dozens of bald eagle breeding pairs in the region. As of 2021, there were 246 reported and occupied bald eagle nests in Colorado, up from 82 nests five years before, CPW said.

That's a huge increase from the end of the 1970s, when Colorado had only three known bald eagle nests, and none on the Front Range.

Anyone looking for a nonintrusive way to watch a bald eagle nest can check out the Fort Saint Vrain eagle nest on the live Xcel Eagle Cam.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said that people who travel to see a nest need to follow 'Leave No Trace' principles:

  • Stay on designated trails. Be aware of closed sections of trails that are in place to protect nesting locations.
  • Keep a proper buffer distance from wildlife. If you're altering the behavior of the animal, you're too close. Use a telephoto lens to "get closer."
  • Don't feed or bait wildlife to attract them.
  • Don't use recorded calls to attract birds to an area.
  • Don't alter the scene for a photo (or for any reason). Leave all objects, leaves, branches, rocks, etc. where they are.

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