Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 2013 “Eagle Days” festival features eagle-viewing opportunities, hands-on activities for youngsters, live bird programs and educational presentations by raptor experts. This year’s festival, Feb. 1-3, takes place at three locations: Lake Pueblo State Park, the Pueblo Nature & Raptor Center and the Pueblo Zoo. Each year the event draws hundreds of visitors from across the state to learn more about these unique birds of prey.
“Eagle Days is a great opportunity to get outdoors in the winter, include the entire family on the outing and learn something about these majestic birds,” said Darcy Mount, a ranger at Lake Pueblo State Park and one of the event’s organizers.
Numerous bald eagles spend the winter at Lake Pueblo State Park and the Pueblo Reservoir State Wildlife Area. They roost in the large trees and dine on fish from the large expanse of open water. ”Once again, we will have both indoor and outdoor activities,” said John Koshak, a watchable wildlife specialist at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “This is the 17th Annual Eagle Days and we’ve added several new exhibits and events. Exhibits and indoor programs take place at all three locations, plus outdoor activities are scheduled throughout the weekend around the lake including bird watching tours and nature hikes.”
The area around Pueblo Reservoir offers excellent opportunities to view a variety of birds of prey year-round, but during the winter months, the bald eagles are the star attraction. The eagles tend to gather at the west end of the lake, but park employees and visitors report sighting individual eagles around the south marina, the Boggs Creek area and the river corridor below the dam. Programs at the Park Visitor Center and entry to the Visitor Center from Hwy. 96 are free, but vehicles are required to have a Park’s Pass if they enter or drive through other portions of the park.
The festival starts Friday, Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lake Pueblo State Park auditorium with the announcement of the winners from this year’s photo contest and a slideshow by Colorado photographer and premiere taxidermist Todd Huffman. Activities continue from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The schedule of events:
Friday, Feb. 1:
6:30 p.m. – Colorado photographer Todd Huffman will present a “Spectacular Colorado Slideshow” at the Eagle Day Photography Contest Awards Ceremony at the Park Visitor’s Center Auditorium.
Saturday, Feb. 2:
Ongoing all day – “Eagle Viewing” through spotting scopes at west fishing area at Lake Pueblo State Park, and kids’ activities including making owl puppets, owl cookies and badge making at the Park HQ.
9 a.m. – Live Raptors Demonstration” by Diane Miller at the Pueblo Raptor & Nature Center, next to Lake Pueblo State Park.
10 a.m. – “Scamper, Gallop and Fly: The Wildlife of Colorado,” by nature author Mary Taylor Young.
11:30 a.m. – “Air Force Academy Falcons Demonstration” by USAFA Cadets.
Noon – The Pueblo Mountain Park will present a program and activities for kids of all ages.
1 p.m. – “Bird Conservation on National Forest Lands” by Richard Roth, retired U.S. Forest Service biologist.
2 p.m. – “Bald Eagles,” by Bernadette Atencio of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
3 p.m. – Release of a rehabilitated raptor at the west fishing area on the north side of Lake Pueblo State Park.
Sunday, Feb. 3:
9 a.m. – Wildlife viewing field trip meets at the north entrance to the Pueblo Reservoir State Wildlife Area, located west of the north entrance to the Park and south of Pueblo West,
10:30 a.m. – Bird walk at the Pueblo Raptor & Nature Center.
11:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Live birds on display at the Pueblo Raptor & Nature Center
Noon to 4 p.m. – “See the Eagles” at the Pueblo Zoo. View the Pueblo Zoo’s pair of bald eagles.
For more information about Pueblo Eagle Days, visit http://www.eagleday.org or call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 719-561-5300 or 719-561-9320.
More about eagles:
Eagles are the number one animal that Americans say they want to see in the wild. Colorado, in the winter offer prime viewing opportunities for both bald eagles and golden eagles. Up to 1,200 bald eagles spend the winter in Colorado. Bald eagles are attracted here by relatively mild winters. Look for them near open water where they hunt for fish or ducks. Most of the bald eagles leave Colorado in late February and March, heading north to nesting grounds in the northern U.S., Canada and Alaska, but a few remain year-round. Golden eagles prefer rugged cliffs with adjacent open country where they feed on a variety of birds, reptiles and mammals, though jackrabbits are their primary prey.
Unlike bald eagles, golden eagles are common nesting birds in Colorado but they too move about during different times of the year. There are roughly 900 active golden eagle nests in Colorado. The majority of the golden eagles nest in the northwest part of the state during the summer. In wintertime, golden eagles are more broadly distributed throughout the state, but they are particularly visible on the eastern plains. Eagles are protected birds, which makes it illegal to kill or possess eagle feathers, body parts, nests, eggs or live birds without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At one time, the bald eagle was an endangered species; however, conservation efforts help the birds recover. The Fish and Wildlife Service removed bald from the endangered species list in 2007.