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CPW News Release
CPW News Release
Tree with active bald eagle nest at Barr Lake State Park falls down in windstorm

Jason Clay
Northeast Region Public Information Officer

Cottonwood tree with active bald eagle nest at Barr Lake State Park falls down in recent windstorm

A side-by-side comparison of the bald eagle nesting tree, before and after, it blew down at Barr Lake State Park

BRIGHTON, Colo. - For a second consecutive year, a cottonwood tree holding an active bald eagle nest at Barr Lake State Park blew down in a windstorm.

It is believed the nesting tree came down on Wednesday, April 6, which is nearly one year to the day when the nesting tree blew down in 2021 (that was on April 5).

Because of the high water levels in the area where the nesting tree fell, no remnants of the nest or eggs have been discovered. Pictures from a Barr Lake State Park volunteer led to the discovery that the nesting tree had fallen over, and that was confirmed by Park Rangers.

“It is with a heavy heart that we report that our eagle nesting tree fell down in the windstorms last week,” said Park Manager Michelle Seubert. “This was a new nest that they started this year after the other nesting tree fell last year. We are hopeful next year they will choose the tree we put our wire basket in. You just never know what mother nature has in store for us.”

Details on the bald eagle nesting basket installed by park staff on Nov. 12, 2021 can be found in this press release.

A second bald eagle nest at Barr Lake, on the opposite side of the reservoir as the other, appears to have failed with no adult eagles observed there over the last two weeks. However, several other nests in the area outside of Barr Lake State Park remain intact and active.

Bald eagle nests can be 7-8 feet across, usually in tall trees high above the ground. Bald eagles often choose dead limbs in tall trees, possibly because their view is not obstructed by foliage. Nests are often found near water.

Females lay 1-3 eggs, which are dull white. The incubation period is about 35-40 days, with both the male and female keeping the eggs warm.

It is possible the eggs of both nests at Barr Lake failed during the incubation phase this year. Reesa Conrey, Avian Researcher for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and leader of the agency's ongoing study of bald eagles along the Front Range, said that between ⅓ and 1/2 of the bald eagle nests in the study area have hatched already this spring.

Click here to learn more about CPW’s study of bald eagles along the Front Range

Of the 95 known bald eagle nests that were occupied along the Front Range last year, 81 percent of them hatched eaglets and 75 percent successfully fledged at least one eaglet. Conrey said those numbers vary from year-to-year, but that a 65-90 percent apparent nest success rate is the likely range. 

In 2021, 122 nests were reported as occupied by bald eagles in the northeast region of Colorado, and there were 246 reported and occupied nests statewide. That statewide number is up from 82 in 2016 (it should be noted that different surveying and reporting efforts can vary from year-to-year).

A pair of bald eagles has been observed in Barr Lake’s wildlife refuge every year since 1986. Since that time, they have survived storms, the loss of nesting trees and even the disappearance of the male. After three years of failed attempts to raise young, the bald eagle pair was finally successful in 1989. 

As of 2021, the Barr Lake eagles have fledged 59 young eagles. An eagle nest may be added to and reused for longer than 20 years, or a pair may use another nest site.


Photos below are from Nov. 12, 2021 when park staff installed three nesting baskets back in cottonwood trees to try to entice bald eagles to re-establish a new nest that is in view of the boardwalk gazebo. The bald eagles did not utilize these baskets this year.

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