Garfield County may see its first eaglet hatch in 31 years |

Garfield County may see its first eaglet hatch in 31 years

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

It must be the year of the eagle in Garfield County.

A wildlife consultant in Rifle believes at least one bald eagle chick has hatched on the banks of the Colorado River near Rifle.

And another could be on the way near Aspen Glen.

The nest near Rifle is located between Interstate 70 and the Colorado River near the Lafarge West gravel pit.

According to wildlife consultant Kirk Beattie, the eagles’ behavior indicates that at least one eaglet has hatched.

“As of Sunday, there was at least one eaglet in the nest,” Beattie said. “It was very interesting to watch. Both eagles were on the nest. Then the male got what looked like a squirrel without a tail and dropped it on the nest. The other eagle pulled fur off and pieces of meat.”

Beattie said the eagle then gently bent down with the food in its mouth. Although Beattie hasn’t seen the young eagle or eagles, he said the behavior indicates chicks are present in the nest.

The pair near Rifle is one of two known mating pairs in the area. The other is located along the Roaring Fork River near Aspen Glen.

If the pair on the Colorado River indeed has a chick, it would be the first eaglet in Garfield County since 1973, Beattie said at a Garfield County Commissioners meeting Monday.

Brent Bibles, the DOW’s state avian researcher for raptors, said the increase in bald eagle activity here reflects a statewide and nationwide trend.

“They were impacted by DDT through the ’60s, but since the ’70s, populations have increased nationwide,” Bibles said.

There are around 60 mating pairs of bald eagles across Colorado and close to 1,000 of the raptors winter in the state, he said.

When eagles have chicks, Bibles said it’s most common for them to have one or two, and in rare cases they’ll have three.

Beattie said he’ll keep monitoring the nest to see how many eaglets are there.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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