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Eagle Nesting and Flight Buffers

bald eagles nesting

Bald eagle activity is a common site each year at Longs Peak Farms. Longs Peak Farms worked to incorporate Colorado Division of Wildlife buffers for the following:

“Honeymoon Tree” — A large cottonwood tree used by the bald eagles during mating. Compared to most other raptors, bald eagles are early breeders: egg laying is often late February, hatching from mid-April to early May.

“Big Chunky” — A large cottonwood tree used by the bald eagles for perching.

“Eagles Nest” — Located about an 1/8th mile north of Big Chunky.
longs peak farms trees
These trees are located along the western edge of Longs Peak Farms.

Interesting Facts:
The bald eagle typically requires old-growth hardwood trees for perching, roosting, and nesting, with good visibility — usually over 20 m (66 ft) tall.

Bald eagle nests are often very large in order to compensate for size of the birds. The largest recorded nest was found in Florida in 1963, and was measured at nearly 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

The bald eagle is a powerful flier, and reaches speeds of 56–70 km/h (35–43 mph) when gliding, and 120–160 km/h (75–99 mph) when diving, though it seldom dives vertically.

To hunt fish, the eagle swoops down over the water and snatches the fish out of the water with its talons. They eat by holding the fish in one claw and tearing the flesh with the other. Eagles have structures on their toes called spicules that allow them to grasp fish. It has been estimated that the gripping power (pounds by square inch) of the bald eagle is ten times greater than that of a human. Bald eagles, like all large eagles, cannot normally take flight carrying prey more than half of their own weight unless aided by favorable wind conditions.

The bald eagle is thought to be much more numerous in North America than the golden eagle, with the bald species estimated to number at least 150,000 individuals, about twice as many golden eagles there are estimated to live in North America.

Bald eagles are sexually mature at four or five years of age. When they are old enough to breed, they often return to the area where they were born. It is thought that bald eagles mate for life. However, if one member of a pair dies or disappears, the other will choose a new mate. A pair which has repeatedly failed in breeding attempts may split and look for new mates.

Usually nests are used for under five years or so, as they either collapse in storms or break the branches supporting them by their sheer weight. However, one nest in the Midwest was occupied continuously for at least 34 years. The nest is built out of branches, usually in large trees found near water.

Eagles produce between one and three eggs per year, two being typical. The oldest chick often bears the advantage of larger size and louder voice, which tends to draw the parents attention towards it. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs, but the female does most of the sitting. The parent not incubating will hunt for food or look for nesting material during this stage. For the first two to three weeks of the nestling period, at least one adult is at the nest almost 100% of the time. After five to six weeks, the attendance of parents usually drops off considerably (with the parents often perching in trees nearby).

The average lifespan of bald eagles in the wild is around 20 years, with the oldest confirmed one having been 38 years of age.