A young bald eagle born just a few yards near E-470 and 120th Avenue interchange in Adams County died July 23 after becoming trapped in a ditch.
The death came despite efforts of the Raptor Education Foundation (REF), E-470 Public Highway …
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The death came despite efforts of the Raptor Education Foundation (REF), E-470 Public Highway Authority and several dozens of volunteers who did their best to ensure the fledging's survival.
“It is no small matter, the death of an eagle,” said Anne Price, curator of raptors with REF on its Facebook page. “And this eagle was very special to many, many people. All of us, from the men on the ground at the nest, to myself, and I know many of you, are shedding many tears. It does not matter that she was never truly 'ours.'”
Price said that an REF member and the district wildlife manager with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife discovered the eagle stuck in a ditch near the log she had been sitting on. She was weak, unable to stand and vomitedquite a bit of muddy water and other stomach contents. Before she could be rushed to the veterinarian, she died at approximately 2:50 p.m.
“We who watch and work with eagles knew that the odds were against her from the start; around 70 percent of all bald eagles never live to see their first birthday,” Price said.
The E-470 Eagle hatched in mid-April and had just taken its first flight two days before she died. She had been monitored by REF, the E-470 Highway Authority and about 50 volunteers, called the Eagle Brigade, for several days. There was concern that it would land in traffic. The volunteers served as monitors to help steer her out of harm's way.
E-470 Public Highway Authority posted warning signs along the tollway to alert motorists of the eagle and provided safety vehicles and safety vests for the volunteers.
“Lots of the staff members at E-470 are feeling very protective of this bird,” said Brighton Mayor Dick McLean, who serves as the E-470's board chair, in a June 20 statement. “They're putting a lot of effort into shielding it from harm, and a number of them are volunteering their free time.”
Price said a necropsy is planned and the foundation would make those results available.
The foundation posted daily updates, photos and videos of the eagle on its Facebook page. Posts included information on her movements, what she ate and some scary close calls, such as on July 22 when the eagle was acting erratic near a barbed wire fence.
While the volunteers and foundation took the eagle's safety seriously, there were signs of humor as they waited for her to take her first flight. On its July 9 post, it stated the eagle held a press conference that she was tired of her parents pushing independence on her and was not ready to give up a fine view and free food.
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