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Bald and beautiful at Aspen Glen

Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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Some bald eagles are making what was once rare in Garfield County commonplace again.For the third straight year, eagle pairs are rearing young at Aspen Glen near Carbondale and in the area of a gravel pit along the Colorado River near Rifle.Before 2004, eaglets hadn’t been born in the county since 1973, and prior to that, the last local eaglets were seen in 1954.Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said it’s not surprising to see the eagles repeatedly breeding locally. Once they establish a nesting location, they tend to return each year, he said.He said two eaglets have been spotted at both the Carbondale and Rifle nests. That’s a typical number, although Hampton noted that sometimes a bigger eaglet will push the smaller one out of the nest before they can fly.On Wednesday, the Carbondale parents could be seen bringing a fish to their young, at their home in a conifer tree towering over the Roaring Fork River and the 10th hole of Aspen Glen’s golf course.Hampton noted that Garfield County’s recent experiences with breeding bald eagles aren’t unique.”It’s a trend we’re seeing all over the place. It’s not just there, it’s statewide and even to some extend nationwide,” he said.Hampton and Linda Vidal, past president of the Roaring Fork Audubon Society, both called the recovery of bald eagles a success story in terms of bringing back an endangered species.The Aspen Glen eagles also benefit from a clause in its development agreement. It calls for the 10th hole to be closed if there is a mating pair of eagles nearby because the nest was there decades before the development. The closure is lifted at the end of the breeding season.Vidal said eagles mate for life.”They use the same nest year after year – with a few more sticks in it,” she said.Vidal said that as big, easy-to-see raptors, bald eagles “are what bird watchers call sexy,” and it’s exciting to see them make their return.But she conducts breeding bird surveys in the area and said a lot of smaller, neotropical migrant birds are in decline thanks to habitat loss resulting from development.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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