Date: 3/6/17 1:23 pm From: Deibert, Pat <pat_deibert...> Subject: eagle nests and others...
I had the opportunity this weekend to introduce a new co-worker, and avid birder, to Curt Gowdy State Park and other wonderful surrounds of my suburban Buford home. We had a spectacular morning with little wind - and almost no birds!. Ravens and mountain chickadees were common, with a smattering of juncos. Canada geese were present in low numbers (7) on the open water of Crystal Reservoir and occasionally a small group would take to the air, announcing their departure and return with great enthusiasm. But there were two notable highlights - a northern goshawk - or at least what we think was a northern goshawk. Definitely a very large accipter with light undersides. It perched in a tree about 1/4 mile away and then resolutely refused to move except for the occasional disparaging look over its shoulder to see if we had left (you could almost hear it sigh in exasperation). Our doubts were raised by the overly dark head and habitat - very open country with only small copses of pines. Of course, we were standing at the edge of the largest stand of ponderosas around - no wonder the bird was frustrated. I have observed goshawks nearly every year near my home, which as the goshawk flies is only about 2 miles up one of the plentiful crow creek drainages.
The second treat was a pair of adult bald eagles! Our first hike wrapped up rather quickly, and wanting to pretend that it spring despite the increasing winds and darkening clouds we decided to see if we could find the eagle nest I spotted last year while hiking another trail in the park. The balds were riding thermals above our heads the entire trail. Unfortunately we couldn't finish the trail due to the deep snow (not to mention the approximately 200 foot drop if you slipped off the trail - oops), but did see the nest. Actually 5 of them. Only one was truly big enough to support an eagle - but the others had clearly been used by raptors at some point in the past few years. The eagle nest was atypical for a bald eagle - high on the side of a cliff - but only 100 yards from the reservoir. And perhaps the bald eagles circling haven't read the bird books describing where they should be nesting. Golden eagles are rare sightings there but possible.
All the nests were inactive except for the rock dove that perched in the eagle nest. Yes, you read that correctly - a single rock dove way off the trail in Curt Gowdy perched in an eagle nest. We couldn't decide if it was incredibly brave, or stupid, but were disappointed nonetheless. Ravens were dancing on the winds above the nest, somersaulting and diving, making the eagles look clumsy, yet regal. It was almost being in a medieval court - with the jesters entertaining the common folk while the royalty looked on. Then my child decided to "call" the ravens, and all wildlife, and most people, vacated the area within a 5 mile radius.
At my home I still have a few (15) gray-crowned rosy finches that drop by when its cold, lots of pygmy and white-breasted nuthatches, Stellar's jays, and goldfinches. Cassin's finches, hairy woodpeckers, mountain bluebirds and magpies wander in for variety. One of goldfinches is about half molted so spring must surely be on its way? And then the collared doves showed up to eat the seed. Made me sad so I wandered away to actually do the parental things I should have been doing all weekend....
I'm going to track the eagle nest (assuming wildlife every comes back after the echoing raven impression shared by my child. oh darn - will have to go outside and bird.... I wish all of you the same fate (sans raven-like child)!