Monday, February 24, 2020

The Bald Eagles of Barr Lake - An Idyllic Home

The Gazebo Boardwalk at Barr Lake

Bald Eagles nest and breed in the North but in the fall many of them migrate south and inland searching for a milder climate. They prefer to spend the winter months in tall trees near a large body of open water where they can survive on fresh fish.

Barr Lake is the perfect haven for these majestic birds of prey as they flock to this oasis on the eastern plains more than one hundred strong. Since it is the non-breeding season, the eagles are more tolerant of human incursion into their habitat, allowing you to catch a glimpse of what their life is really like.

Surrounding the reservoir, a barren forest of writhing, twisted, tortured cottonwoods is the perfect place for the birds to perch and gaze down upon their awesome domain. They are built to withstand the cold but on the chilliest days, they remain motionless on the tallest treetops.

When the weather warms, the eagles become more active and social and that is when their entertaining antics are fun to watch. Big, aggressive adults steal catches from seagulls or even from one of their own while others saunter clumsily along the ice line scanning the water for food.

The most spectacular part of their sudden liveliness is the aerial display of playful soaring, diving and tussling. Their vocalizations seem to express the sheer joy to be blessed with the incredible ability of masterful flight.

Come February, a large contingent of migrants arrives from the South and when combined with the residents, it is possible to identify more than one hundred unique individuals in a single day. It is an exciting place to be when the sleepy habitat begins to come back to life.

Other bird species are on their way but the bald eagles are leaving soon as they must fly to their northern breeding grounds. There is a mated pair, though, that returns to Barr Lake every spring where they make the same, enormous nest their idyllic home.

They saunter on ice

The adults are aggressive

They are more active and social

It's possible to see 100 different eagles in one day

The eagles are tolerant

They perch in the treetops

The habitat is coming to life

Playful soaring. Photo by Lukas Miller

An aerial display. Photo by Lukas Miller

Masterful flight. Photo by Lukas Miller

Barr Lake is a haven

Tortured cottonwood trees

The reservoir is partially frozen

An awesome domain

It's fun to watch the eagles

An idyllic home

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