Eaglets begin to spread their wings | PostIndependent.com

Eaglets begin to spread their wings

Chyrise HarrisPost Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox Two eaglets (only one is visible in this photo) remain in the nest in a tree near Rifle along the Colorado River as of Tuesday evening. Each time the wind picked up, the eaglets would take turns spreading their wings and catching the breeze which would lift them several feet above the nest and then back down again in preparation for leaving their nest for good very soon.

The chances of viewing eaglets across the valley narrow each day as the dark-feathered young begin to take off into the wind.With two successful nests in Aspen Glen and Rifle, specialists with the Colorado Division of Wildlife said viewing the eaglets this summer depends on the birds’ ability to take flight.The eaglet that raptor biologist Brent Bibles banded at Aspen Glen in May fledged, leaving his parents empty-nesters, said Colorado Division of Wildlife manager Pat Tucker. Tucker said the eaglet left about two weeks ago. “It was learning to fly and just getting used to having air under its wings,” Tucker said.

Normally, eaglets stay close to the nest for a while until they become comfortable with their wings, Tucker said.”They get more proficient at being an eagle, and they tend to stay out and roam further astray from the tree, the nest and the whole site overnight,” Tucker said. “Gradually they start to disburse and lose all ties to the nest and tree that they hatched in.”Brian Gray, district manager for the DOW in Rifle, said he thought the two eaglets at the nest in Rifle fledged about two weeks ago.”It’s the second year we’ve had two eagles fledge there,” Gray said. “If people see them there now, it wouldn’t be totally abnormal, although when I saw them there a while ago, they were standing up and flapping their wings and doing a pretty good job.”

The nest in Rifle sits on private property, but no restrictions like that exist at Aspen Glen. However, Gray said that eagle-watchers hoping to get a peek should view the birds from Airport Road along Interstate 70 east of Wal-Mart. At either site, seeing any late eaglets pop up remains doubtful, because the prime season for mating has passed.”The time to pay attention is late winter and early spring,” Tucker said. “That’s when it’s helpful for people to let us know if they see eagles that look like they’re paired or building a nest.”Tucker said wildlife specialists usually recognize mating eagles based on three indications.

“Either we know that from historical records there were previous eagles nesting and we would go to those sites to see if they’ve reoccupied the areas,” Tucker said. “Or, our field officers would look at new areas and look to see if there are signs of eagles in a nest, or there’s always folks just hiking around and when they see them they report it to us.”Next year, Gray said, people should start to look for eaglets about May.With the fledging of the eaglets, the 10th hole at Aspen Glen golf course has reopened, allowing hikers, runners and golfers to roam freely. Luck and good timing may grant eager viewers a last-minute glance at the eaglets in Rifle.

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