Wind storm blamed for death of 2 bald eaglets; residents worry about planned development

Our Colorado: Development vs. treasured wildlife

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BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Mother Nature has taken a toll on a bald eagle family in Broomfield. 

High winds, which felled numerous trees in metro Denver, and killed a Lafayette woman on April 17, heavily damaged an eagle nest near Del Corso Park.

There were believed to have been three eaglets in that nest, two of them died.

Now, members of the Broomfield Bird Club are keeping a close eye on the surviving eaglet, hoping that it makes it to adulthood.

Judy Enderle has been out to Del Corso Park nearly every day. She’s been impressed with the careful attention of the eaglet’s parents, especially the mom.

“Yesterday, when it was snowing and raining, she was just covering the baby. She made sure that he stayed warm and dry,” Enderle said. “What a site. It took my heart.”

Enderle said you can’t always see the dad, but he’s in the area.

“The other day, an immature bald eagle flew by and dad was nowhere near,” she said, “Mom vocalized with her mouth. I could hear the noises. Dad came back in a flash and chased that other eagle away.

Development Concerns

Enderle says club members worry that a 288-unit apartment complex planned on adjacent property will take a toll on the surviving eaglet.

“We’ve been going back and forth with the construction company about how close they can get,” said Barbara Kozacik.

Enderle said the big concern is that construction noise and heavy equipment will lead the eaglet's parents to abandon their nest.

“It’s happened before,” she said. “This is the only eagle’s nest in Broomfield. We want to make sure the eaglet survives.”

Enderle said the eagles have to have “old growth” cottonwood “because those are the only ones with strong enough branches to hold those huge nests.”

“They’re such magnificent birds,” Kozacik told Denver7, “with wingspans of seven feet.”

Wildlife photographer Jerry Scritchfield said in addition to construction equipment, drones might negatively impact the eagles.

“If (one of the parents) tries to go after the drone, it could end up getting hurt,” he said.

The Broomfield Bird Club has reached out to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ask for a delay in granting an “incidental take” permit.

That's a permit that would remove liability from the developer, if the parents abandon the nest, and the eaglet dies, because of construction.

Seeking Public Input

In a news release, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it is seeking public input on a draft Environmental Assessment for a Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act disturbance permit application for a pair of bald eagles in Broomfield County.

“Garrett Construction LLC applied for an eagle incidental take permit for disturbance that may occur while constructing an apartment complex from early May 2018 through late 2019. If issued, the permit would require implementation of several avoidance and minimization measures to reduce potential disturbance to the pair of eagles during construction,” the release said.

“That’s a good thing,” Enderle said. “People have until the end of the week to talk to Fish and Wildlife and say, ‘please hold off until after the baby gets big enough to fly o his own.”

The nest is located 530 feet from the edge of the construction zone. The nearest apartment building would be 660 feet from the nest.

According to the release, the contractor would increase the distance from the nest to any vertical development and would create a buffer boundary that is clearly marked and fenced to help contractors avoid the eagle nest.

The draft Environmental Assessment and other information about the project can be found on the Service’s website under the Resource Documents heading. 

The Service is seeking comments through April 29, 2018 via email at: FW6BroomfieldEagleEA@fws.gov, or via mail at: 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Migratory Birds

Attn: Brian Smith

PO Box 25486 DFC

Denver, CO 80225-0486

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