Eaglets at Fire’s Edge Expected to Fledge Soon

By June 15, 2012Education, Science

Friday, June 28 update: We are happy to say that all three eaglets have successfully fledged from the Ted’s Place nest! They have been spotted making flights around the nest site, and all three look great.

Friday, June 22 update: One of the eaglets has fledged!

Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory’s Bald Eagle Watch Coordinator Cindi Kelly reports the nest we monitor about a mile from Ted’s Place northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., has survived the High Park fire so far. At one point flames were .9 miles from the nest.

“It was a little scary because the fire was so close,” she said. “The smoke can’t be good for anyone or anything. The eagles spend a lot of time grooming themselves. They have an inner eyelid used for blinking called a nictitating membrane, which slides across the eye every 3-4 seconds to wipe dirt and dust from the cornea.”

High Park Fire

Smoke from the High Park Fire rises near a Bald Eagle nest in northern Colorado. Photo by Anna Mangan.

Three Bald Eagle Watch volunteers, Regine Paul, Anna Mangan and Sarah Smith, each monitor the nest weekly. Cindi also spot checks it and says the nest’s three eaglets have been doing “a lot of wing flapping and hopping around branches near the nest,” but the monitors have not seem them fly yet. “Their first flights are usually very uncoordinated and short. They should be making those flights any day,” she adds.

Meanwhile, both parents are bringing food back to the nest, although the monitors have noticed a change in their flight patterns, which could have been caused by the smoke. “There are a lot of food sources available so we feel very confident that this nest will successfully fledge all three eaglets,” Cindi said. This nest has had seven previous successful fledglings since RMBO began monitoring it in 2008.

This is the second nest of those RMBO monitors to be threatened by fire this year. The other was in Fort Lupton where the actual nest tree caught fire when a controlled burn got out of control due to strong winds. That nest successfully hatched two chicks.

Thank you to our dedicated volunteers who consistently monitor nest sites throughout the season – even when fires loom.

See this story on Denver’s 9News!