In honor of Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s 125th anniversary this year, the Clear Creek Courant and the Canyon Courier will have a monthly photo page celebrating the state’s amazing wildlife and parks. Each page will celebrate a different local animal or group of animals, including fun facts provided by CPW. For February, the mountain newspapers are celebrating Colorado’s birds of prey.
BIRDS OF PREY FUN FACTS:
- Clear Creek and Jefferson counties’ birds of prey include golden eagles, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, northern goshawks and peregrine falcons, among others.
- Last summer, Colorado Parks & Wildlife started a four-year study of the Front Range’s bald eagle population. For the study, it’s placing transmitters on 25-30 eagles to track their movements. The agency has record of more than 90 breeding pairs between the Denver area and the Wyoming border. This is an immense population growth since the late 1970s, when there were only three nests in Colorado and none along the Front Range.
- Great horned owls start the courtship process in December and January. They typically use the abandoned nests of other species, such as hawks or squirrels. They are generally nocturnal but can hunt during the day, especially while raising their young. They have been known to hunt animals as large as skunks, domestic cats, and small dogs.
- Golden eagles’ wingspan can be up to 7 feet, and the females are typically bigger than the males. Females can lay one to three eggs each year. Typically only one chick survives to fledgling, as the firstborn chick often kills the younger ones.
- The peregrine falcon has been dubbed “the fastest creature on earth,” as it can reach speeds up to 200 mph while diving. Mating pairs prefer to nest on cliffsides, but some have nested in skyscrapers. A pair will return to the same nesting spot, called an aerie, every year.
- Burrowing owls are typically found in the Western United States, including Colorado, during the summer months. They live in holes created by prairie dogs and similar mammals, although they can burrow their own. They sometimes collect other animals’ dung and put it around their nests to attract dung beetles, which they eat.
GOT WILDLIFE PHOTOS?
The March wildlife photo page will celebrate Colorado’s squirrels, chipmunks, marmots and prairie dogs. To contribute to the March 31 page, email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org before March 25. Include the photographer’s name, and the date and location the photo was taken. The photo can be of wildlife anywhere in Colorado and doesn’t have to be recent.