Raptor Chronicles
Message From the President

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
~Sir Winston Churchill

So...now what?

More than one person has asked me this question since the start of the 2021, and I have yet to respond with a definitive answer, or even the same answer twice. There are many lessons to be learned from the COVID pandemic, and even more lessons that those of us in the non-profit sector have learned through trial and error, and A LOT of hard work over the last twelve months.

Not all the lessons have been tough, I admit. A few have come in the form of stalwart friends and members who have written or called to say, "Tell me what you need right now. What are you short of?" Sometimes the answer was something as simple as "latex gloves" or "disinfecting wipes". But more often than not, my answer was more elusive, such as "A new way of educating the public, and reaching hearts and minds with live animals via a screen?" The lesson to me during these conversations was to be clear about the challenges we're facing and to be as open as possible to all offers of assistance, especially if they came in packages I didn't immediately recognize.

One piece of good news for 2021 is the extension of the CARES Act tax benefits, which are providing relief to nonprofits by encouraging donations. In addition, there are a few enhancements to charitable deductions for 2021 as part of the $2+ trillion economic stimulus package. For instance:
1. If you file individually with the standard deduction (instead of itemizing), you may be able to deduct up to $300 in annual charitable contributions for 2021. However if you are a married couple filing jointly in 2021, that amount has doubled to $600.
2. If you itemize deductions, Individuals and Married Filing Jointly will see that the AGI limits for charitable deductions have been eliminated. This means that you may be able to deduct qualified contributions of up to 100% of your adjusted gross income.
3. Businesses, Corporations, Foundations, etc. have many improved tax benefits for the 2021 tax year, including an increase in the charitable contribution limitation from 10% to 25% of their taxable income. There are a number of considerations and rules regarding types of contributions and recipients, so please be sure to read the details on the IRS’s Charitable Contribution Deductions webpage or check with your tax advisor.

So in following the wisdom of Prime Minister Churchill, let's all continue to give what we can, to all the people and causes we can, in the hopes that together, we can (re)build our lives and smile at each other once again. Thank you for sticking with us and let's celebrate President's Day with as many bald eagles as possible!
~Anne Price, President
This next video in the series we shot back in October with Colorado Parks & Wildlife features an "accidental" raptor species for Colorado, the red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). There are five different subspecies of this "woodland" buteo found throughout the United States, but they seem to have skipped over the Great Basin and Rocky Mountain regions. This is most likely due to the fact that this small hawk likes a variety of prey, including songbirds and amphibians, and is very at home in wooded areas. Both adults and juveniles do wander into Colorado periodically, where their long, black and white tails immediately identify them as "not from around these parts". Enjoy!
For Our Eagle Fans
This video shows a perch along Hwy 2, west of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge in Colorado. The refuge managers have erected a "utility pole" type of perch, which many species of raptors use, just without any wires. There is a prairie dog town not far away, and it's a perfect place to spot prey.

There are three "adult" looking balds here; one perched on the pole, and two down on the ground, but as you can see when Peter zooms in, all three eagles look very different.The large bird on the pole itself (we think a female), has a snow-white head, and no black or gray smudges on her cere or beak. She's also periodically glancing up at the sky above her, because out of frame, there were a couple of other subadult balds flying around...this is why she's vocalizing at them, making that classic, territorial "squeaky-pig" call. She is in complete adult plumage and her age is unknown. On the ground, we believe we have two eagles of the same age: likely 4 1/2 years old. However, they look very different, which is VERY common with balds of identical age class. Each eagle is unique; while most plumage, beak and eye color changes occur on a fairly predictable schedule, the feathers and face don't always "match", so to speak. Markings on a mostly-white tail can also help age an eagle, but since we cannot see the tails on the two birds on the ground, let's look at the faces.

The left eagle, closest to the pole, has a grayish cere (the skin connecting the beak to the head), and somewhat dark eyes. But his (?) head is very white, so it's likely the last of the gray on the cere will disappear during next summer. The right eagle has lighter eyes and a yellow cere, but still retains a bit of brown "wash" behind the eye and on the top of the head.Our guess is that most of these brown feathers will be molted this summer as well, and replaced with lovely, snow-white ones.

Grab your binoculars and take a close look at any "adult" bald eagle you spot...he or she may still have some tell-"tail" signs of being a teenager!
The Magpie's Advantage
Patience is a virtue for this member of the Corvid family: he waits for the opportunity while the eagle gulps the final mammal morsels and then steps away from the feeding spot. While the eagle is "feaking" (cleaning and wiping the beak on the cross bar), Mr. Magpie sneaks in for the leftovers! The location of this encounter is the National Wildlife Refuge at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.
Colorado Blackpackers Meet Our Six Year Old Bald Eagle
On February 7th, we enjoyed a sunny but VERY windy day at Barr Lake State Park, our neighbors just across I-76. We presented our Eagle Face 2 Face program for the Colorado Blackpackers, whose mission is to create economic equity in outdoor recreation. They accomplish this by providing outdoor gear, education and adventure opportunities to traditionally underrepresented groups.
The thirty-minute presentation included many thoughtful and engaging questions, as well as some great wingspan shots while our female bald briefly hovered, and Anne held on tight! Thanks to Park Manager Michelle Seubert and all who braved the winds to watch the many, many bald eagles being blown around the sky!
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Look for us the first Saturday of the month at
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Driving For Wildlife
Help us put another 1,000 eagles on the streets of our great state. Qualified members of REF are entitled to display them on their cars. Put Colorado's first and best environmental plates on YOUR vehicle!
Special thanks to The Kroenke Group & THF Realty for extending our lease and keeping the fee at zero dollars though 2023! Support like this ensures we will make it through these challenging times.

Thanks to our past and future partners, THF Prairie Center Development, L.L.C., THF Prairie Center Investors, L.L.C. and the City of Brighton, for creating the best intersection in Colorado just a minute or two north of our headquarters!

As the new villages grow at Prairie Center, so do the streets with cool names!
We're looking for a gently-used, 20-25 foot RV (Class C) that would serve as a mobile office for traveling programs around Colorado and farther away. Or maybe you have an SUV or pickup truck you would like to donate? We can put it to good use! Please give our office a call if you have a vehicle you think we could use!
(303) 680-8500
Thank you!
A New Print for the New Year
This beautiful five-year study of our female bald eagle was photographed and composited by Marilyn Stevens. It measures 16″ x 20″ and is printed on fine photo paper with a “lustre” finish. The print will fit many ready-made frames. To our knowledge this is the only available photographic sequence of an immature bald eagle showing off the plumage changes as she matures. Remember, both male and female look identical except for their size, but the male is about 30% smaller. Our foil seal is attached to the bottom of each print. (Not shown in the image above). This is a limited offer and the price includes shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.A.

This limited offer is only available here. $40 for one print or $60 for two.
Pick it up at our office for only $25
Unnatural Sounds of Trouble
Industrial wind farm vibrations, known as "infrasound" are causing untold damage to a wide variety of animals. International researchers are compiling more and more evidence showing the toxic acoustical fields created by wind turbines threaten not only humans, but also greater prairie chickens, geese, badgers and cows and other animals. Any species that relies on its ability to acquire and interpret sound vibrations is endangered through the low pulsing vibrations emitted by wind farm operations. This report details just a few of the the threats.
Join the 35 Families Supporting Our Raptor Sanctuary
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Have you signed up for the King Soopers Community Rewards Program yet? Do you have a Loyalty Card and digital account? Just visit https://www.kingsoopers.com/o/store-services/community-rewards , log in and enroll to have REF receive donated funds from King Soopers and Kroger! We'd love to increase the number of families supporting us...please share with your friends and family!

OUR COMMUNITY REWARDS NUMBER IS TF405. Simply log into your account, look for "Community Rewards" on the left hand side, and enter TF405. Our name will appear, and you can link your card to REF. You save on groceries, earn fuel points, and we'll receive a quarterly donation from King Soopers.
Marilyn's Eagle Gallery
Eagles, eagles and MORE eagles! Marilyn Stevens has wowed us once again with a beautiful variety photos of species and
age classes of eagles. They're as stunning as they are instructive, so let's get started!
Above, we have an adult bald eagle on the bottom, and a first-year (technically, about to turn one year old) golden eagle getting the surprise of his life as the bald drives him away from the nesting territory. There are a couple of things we love about this shot: #1) bald eagles are known to have longer necks than goldens, but you wouldn't know it looking at the young golden in the photo, stretched out to getaway from the bald as fast as possible! #2) look at that beautiful tail on the young golden. Usually, two to three tail feathers are molted each year and replaced with solid brown feathers with faint white markings. The number of half-white and half-brown feathers helps in determining how old a golden eagle is. Below, one of this adult pair of balds is also in the photo above. The bald eagle pair returned to the tree after chasing the golden away and reinforced their pair bond by copulating, according to Marilyn.
These subadult balds are showing off their survival success! The bird above is a second-winter bird, just shy of two years old. His/her belly is pretty heavily marked, but if you look closely, the brown on the breast is a bit darker or denser in pattern, somewhat emulating the "giant Swainson's hawk" plumage common to eighteen month-old bald eagles. The tail feathers and primary flight feathers on the ends of the wings are remarkably even and unworn, meaning this eagle flies well, hasn't scuffled a lot on the ground, and is doing a good job of hunting and scavenging.

The eagle below we're guessing is three and a half years old (there are other photos in this sequence which helped us determine the age). The eye is whitish/yellow, the beak and yellow cere are mostly yellow too. The white head has the brownish "racing stripe" running behind the eye which is often present between two to four years of age. Finally, the tail is mostly white, with just a bit of brown on the later edges and tip. This eagle still has quite a bit of white on the flanks and axillary areas, which means it's unlikely it will be solid brown and perfectly white this summer. What's REALLY important is that this bird has mastered the art of fishing in a semi-frozen body of water, and is able to survive the winter.
Beautiful Buteo
During Colorado's winter months, not only do we see a large influx of bald eagles, but we also witness a huge exchange of buteos moving from the north to the south. This beautiful buteo is typical of our winter season. It's a soaring hawk with some of the greatest variations in plumage, which makes the various morphs of this raptor confusing to even the best birders. Congratulations to Deb Jenkins for accurately identifying this lovely bird on our Facebook page. Some field guides refer to this as a "intermediate dark morph", because the breast and belly are not a uniform dark brown. However, raptorphiles also refer to this as a "rufous morph" red-tailed hawk, due to the caramel color of the breast, and the mixing of that color and brown on the belly.
A Skiing Legend Retires
This week, one of our favorite alpine racing stars from the World Cup circuit announced his retirement from ski racing. Ted Ligety has been a towering, larger-than-life presence on Team USA for many years and a crowd favorite in Beaver Creek. One of my very favorite moments was being on the podium with him and Bode Miller back in 2013...these guys have the best smiles! We wish Ted and his family the very best as he moves on to his next adventure.~Anne P.
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REF Staff: Anne Price, President & Curator; Peter Reshetniak, Founder & Director of Special Projects; Savannah Grout, Mews Manager (PT)
Docents: Elise Bales, Morgan Brantmeyer, Kevin Corwin, Karen Gonzalez, Bernhard Hafner, Kim Kistler, Linda Julia, Jennifer McAllister, Anne Price, Jennifer Redmond, Peter Reshetniak, Beverly Rice, Mitch Skinner, Ann Stanz