16TH Annual Eagle Day Festival... Bald Eagles at the Pueblo Reservoir!
By: Michele Ross
The Pueblo Eagle Festival at Lake Pueblo is always the first Saturday in February.
The bald eagle is the most recognized raptor (bird of prey) in North America. Once on the endangered species list the Bald Eagle has made a tremendous comeback. With only 417 nesting pairs back in 1963, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are 9,789 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states today! Since the banning of DDT back in 1972 and through intensive protection efforts the bald eagle is now thriving and is no longer on the endangered species list.
During the winter months bald eagles can be seen around the Pueblo Reservoir, a favorite spot for feeding. If lucky you can spot them standing in the water or roosting in the trees. Depending on the weather and water flow they can arrive here in December and can stay until mid-march. Up to 1200 bald eagles spend the winter in Colorado. As an avid bird watcher myself, I've found that dawn or dusk is usually the best time to photograph them or a great time just for viewing. Just remember to bring your spotting scope or binoculars.
Besides the majestic bald eagles the Pueblo Reservoir hosts many birds of prey. Golden Eagles, Red-Tailed Hawks, Ferruginous Hawk, Osprey, Western Screech Owl, Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls populate the park. On my outing today I spotted 4 different adult bald eagles, one golden eagle and a beautiful red-tailed hawk.
Eagle days is a great opportunity for the entire family to get out and have some fun. There are plenty of indoor exhibits and activities at the park visitor center. For the kids there was making owl puppets, owl cookies and badges. The adults were treated to a mini gallery featuring some beautiful photographs by wildlife photographer Ron Drummond. And as a special treat a red-tailed hawk was released back into the wild, all part of the outdoor activities.
The Pueblo Raptor & Nature Center was on hand with "Lurch" the turkey vulture and a beautiful golden eagle. Their handlers were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Answering questions and posing for pictures both kids and adults loved it!