Thirty years ago catching a glimpse of our national symbol, the American Bald Eagle, would have been a rare occurrence. Loss of habitat, pesticide pollution, and indiscriminant killing brought this second largest North American bird to near extinction. After the Bald Eagle was listed as endangered in 1976, local, state, and federal agencies worked together to study, monitor, and protect this imperiled raptor. As testament to Endangered Species legislation and multi-agency efforts, on August 11, 1995, the Bald Eagle was down-listed from endangered to threatened. Today, Colorado boasts of over 60 pairs of nesting Bald Eagles and during the winter, as they migrate southward from Canada and Alaska, it is not unusual to find pockets of 10 to 100+ birds roosting near rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.
Best viewing months: Although they can be seen year round, your best opportunity for viewing Bald Eagles in Colorado occurs from October to March when as many as 1200 birds spend the winter here.
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.
Where to go to observe these remarkable raptors:
- Any large, open body of water with an ample population of fish will likely attract Bald Eagles such as Big Johnson Reservoir.
- Pueblo Reservoir area as it hosts its tenth annual Eagle Day event in February. Along with opportunities to view Bald Eagles and other raptors there will be lots of fun and educational activities for all ages. Visit www.eagleday.org to learn more.
- In the 2nd edition of the Colorado Wildlife Viewing Guide: Visit the bottomlands of the Arkansas(site 83), South Platte River drainage (site 7), Colorado River drainage (site 179)
The best times of the day for seeing roosting eagles is early morning or late in the day. Remember to take along those binoculars and spotting scopes because eagles can see 5 to 8 times better than humans and they won’t tolerate close approaches. Have an engaging eagle excursion!