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Wintering Bald Eagles at Barr Lake State Park


Last updated 2/17/2021 at 9:29am

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

I was recently visiting the park when the temperatures were between 40-50 degrees and the lake was mostly free of ice. Lots of eagles could be observed flying over the water hunting for fish. I was fortunate to capture photos of an eagle who flew right over my head with a large fish in it talons before landing in a nearby cottonwood tree. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, some of the species of fish that inhabit the waters of Barr Lake are channel catfish, small and large-mouthed bass, rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, wiper and tiger muskie.

Barr Lake State Park, near Denver, offers the nature enthusiast the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife. Depending on the season, there are a variety of birds to see. Bald Eagles congregate in large numbers during the winter months. This year more than 80 were counted in the park during one day.

Many of the wintering eagles often stay in the park from December through February and sometimes into March. One pair of eagles stays year-round nesting in the park. Every year since 1986, a pair of Bald Eagles has been observed nesting there.

Karen AuBuchon Johnson

Pairs of Bald Eagles can be seen "pair bonding" or displaying courtship behavior sitting next to each other in trees. Pairs can be observed flying together, high in the air, sometimes locking talons and then falling toward the ground together before releasing their talons.

Barr Lake is located just northeast of Denver, not far off Interstate 76, at 13401 Picadilly Road, in Brighton. It is open 5 a.m.–10 p.m. The park has a nature center where visitors can learn about the park, including displays featuring the park's wildlife. Nature themed gift items are also for sale. The nature center is open Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. There are picnic areas for visitors. A daily $9 park pass per car or annual parks pass is required for entry. You can call the nature center at (303) 659-6005 for information.

Visitors can take a walk around the lake along a multi-use trail and observe eagles perched in the numerous cottonwood trees; see them flying over the lake searching for fish, grabbing one from the water with their talons. Bald Eagles can sometimes be seen squabbling with one another attempting to snatch a fish away for themselves.

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