Morning Birding at Rock Bottom Ranch 10/12/21
October 12, 2021
Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 8am-11am
Location: Rock Bottom Ranch
As blustery fall weather blew in, birds foraged in trees and shrubs and moved about in flocks. Most ducks appear to have molted into breeding plumage and some are already doing head pumping display behaviors toward forming new pair bonds for next year’s breeding season. A red-tailed hawk was active over the ranch and surroundings, and kinglets, sparrows, and chickadees foraged in small trees near the field center. To our delight, we caught sight of a bald eagle that flew to the ground in a pasture and then flew back in the same direction from where it had come, carrying sticks and/or grass in its talons. When the eagle landed, we could see it through a “window” in the leafy cottonwood canopy.
Through the scope, we saw that the eagle was perched in a large nest and that it was with a second bald eagle! Walking through the pasture, we found a direct line of sight and stopped to observe from there, about 3,000 feet away from the nest tree in order to avoid any potential disturbance to the birds. According to research, bald eagles maintain their primary and alternate nests throughout the year, and begin nest work in earnest 1-3 months prior to nesting season which can begin as early as February in the Roaring Fork Valley. This site will be fun to keep watching to see if the eagles decide to actually nest there in the spring. In the alders below the eagles, flocks of red-winged blackbirds called and a belted kingfisher perched.
Mallard x Domestic Hybrid
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo of Red-winged Blackbird at Rock Bottom Ranch by Ben Seipel.