Winter is finally losing it’s grip on the wilderness as springtime in the Rockies gains a foothold. One of the first signs of the new season is when the returning of the bald eagles to their nests in preparation for the breeding season. Our eagles at the entrance to Eleven Mile Canyon are well on the way to welcoming new eaglets to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado!
Eagles on the Nest
The sure sign of new eagles on the way is when mama eagle stops leaving the nest to fish in the icy waters of the South Platte River. A few weeks ago it became apparent that there were eggs in the nest and there has been one eagle present at all times since. Yesterday mama eagle was sitting a bit higher in the nest, indicating that the eggs may have hatched. Even with my binoculars I was not able to see any little ones but the signs are there.
Bringing Home the Bacon
After my usual cruise up and down the canyon looking for wildlife along the water, I lingered to watch the nest. The nest is a long way from the road so I got out the 2x teleconverter to get a closer shot of mama eagle peaking over the rim. Just as I got it attached, papa eagle came flying in to deliver a stick for the nest. Soon he flew down to the sandbar to grab a fish out of the icy water and I was lucky to catch the whole event!
A Great Journey
In a couple weeks another sure sign of spring will take place. Osprey have left their winter homes in South America and have been in flight for about a month now as they return to their nests in the north. Unfortunately, the nest we had been watching for a couple years was destroyed in a wind storm, but our osprey returned last year anyway and produced at least two healthy offspring. In a couple of short weeks they will arrive and hopefully this year give us some kind of indication where they might have made their new nest.
Mule Deer Becoming Active
The mule deer too must sense that spring is near. I haven’t seen many of them on my favorite trail since it turned cold in the fall. But lately I have seen small herds of them lounging around in the shade of pine trees at the edge of the forest. Does will Soon be looking for a place to birth their young and new fawns will soon be in tow. The bucks will begin to sprout antlers which will be fully grown by autumn.
Rivers Begin to Flow
The snow also will bow to the new season and begin to melt from the peaks along the Continental Divide. Rivers will begin to swell as the massive snow pack fills the valley below with life giving liquid. Ice along the banks will be swept away by the torrent and soon winter will be but a memory. I enjoy the deep snow of the Colorado winter and the stark beauty that accompanies it, but I am always glad to see springtime in the Rockies and it’s flurry of new life.
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