Broomfield Raptor Management Plan

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Broomfield is fortunate to have a variety of active raptor populations thriving in a suburban setting. However, these majestic birds, which include species like Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks, are sensitive to disturbances in their nesting and breeding habitats. To identify ways to minimize habitat impacts on raptors and develop best management practices at the local level, Broomfield is creating a Raptor Management Plan. This plan will seek to protect raptors, while also working within the state and federal regulatory framework and respecting private property rights.

The City and County of Broomfield is taking a proactive approach to protect and enhance raptor habitat and breeding success within the region. Open Space and Trails Staff, along with a team of ecological consultants from Smith Environmental and Engineering, are actively developing a Raptor Management Plan.

In mid-september, the project team presented its initial approach (below) to the Open Space and Trails Advisory Committee. You can learn more about the plan (Raptor Plan Overview), how to get involved, and leave your comments below.



What is a raptor?

Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and capture prey and carrion (dead animals). Generally, these birds eat things such as rodents, snakes, fish and insects. Raptors can be either diurnal, meaning they feed during the day, or nocturnal, meaning they feed at night.

Raptors have three distinctive characteristics:

  1. Sharp talons used to seize prey
  2. Hooked-beak used to kill and consume prey
  3. A diet consisting entirely of meat

In Broomfield, some of the more common raptors that live, nest and breed in our community include:

  • Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos)
  • Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni)
  • Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
  • Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
  • American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  • Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)
  • Great-Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • Western Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
  • Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias)*

*Not a raptor, but will be included in this plan as habitat, behavior, and breeding is very similar to raptors and they actively nest in Broomfield.

Raptors are predators and are often at the top of the food chain in local ecosystems. For this reason, raptors are often key indicators of ecosystem health. Active monitoring of raptor populations here in Colorado highlights the many challenges that these birds face. Fragmentation and degradation of their habitat, vehicular strikes, pollution and unintentional poisoning, along with many other human caused impacts are adversely affecting our wild raptors.

Get Involved:

  • Using the questions and poll below submit your inquiries about raptors. What do you know? What would you like to know?

Broomfield is fortunate to have a variety of active raptor populations thriving in a suburban setting. However, these majestic birds, which include species like Bald Eagles, Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks, are sensitive to disturbances in their nesting and breeding habitats. To identify ways to minimize habitat impacts on raptors and develop best management practices at the local level, Broomfield is creating a Raptor Management Plan. This plan will seek to protect raptors, while also working within the state and federal regulatory framework and respecting private property rights.

The City and County of Broomfield is taking a proactive approach to protect and enhance raptor habitat and breeding success within the region. Open Space and Trails Staff, along with a team of ecological consultants from Smith Environmental and Engineering, are actively developing a Raptor Management Plan.

In mid-september, the project team presented its initial approach (below) to the Open Space and Trails Advisory Committee. You can learn more about the plan (Raptor Plan Overview), how to get involved, and leave your comments below.



What is a raptor?

Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and capture prey and carrion (dead animals). Generally, these birds eat things such as rodents, snakes, fish and insects. Raptors can be either diurnal, meaning they feed during the day, or nocturnal, meaning they feed at night.

Raptors have three distinctive characteristics:

  1. Sharp talons used to seize prey
  2. Hooked-beak used to kill and consume prey
  3. A diet consisting entirely of meat

In Broomfield, some of the more common raptors that live, nest and breed in our community include:

  • Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
  • Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos)
  • Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis)
  • Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni)
  • Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
  • Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
  • American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  • Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)
  • Great-Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
  • Western Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
  • Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias)*

*Not a raptor, but will be included in this plan as habitat, behavior, and breeding is very similar to raptors and they actively nest in Broomfield.

Raptors are predators and are often at the top of the food chain in local ecosystems. For this reason, raptors are often key indicators of ecosystem health. Active monitoring of raptor populations here in Colorado highlights the many challenges that these birds face. Fragmentation and degradation of their habitat, vehicular strikes, pollution and unintentional poisoning, along with many other human caused impacts are adversely affecting our wild raptors.

Get Involved:

  • Using the questions and poll below submit your inquiries about raptors. What do you know? What would you like to know?

What questions do you have about raptors?

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    Are there any opportunities to volunteer to support the program?

    krhyser asked 9 months ago

    Thank you very much for your question and interest in volunteering. We don't have a specific volunteer program for the raptor plan, but we do have some related volunteer opportunities. These volunteer opportunities include the Eagle Watch program, which provides monitoring of an active local bald eagle nest. Information on Eagle Watch and other volunteer opportunities can be found on our Open Space and Trails website. You can also contact Open Space and Trails staff directly by emailing openspace@broomfield.org.

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    How can I attract more hawks to hunt down the pesky rabbits in my lawn and garden?

    Elmer Fudd asked 10 months ago

    The hawks and owls are pretty good at this already, although they can't always keep up with the rabbits! Hawks and owls both hunt primarily from above and use perches, so having trees and even rooftops with good sightlines helps. Also, the Broomfield Wildlife Masters have some good ideas and strategies to limit rabbits in lawns and gardens. They are local volunteers with lots of knowledge in answering backyard wildlife questions.

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    Is there any plan to catalog and count the Broomfield raptor population? Just as a suggestion, you could call on individuals and organizations to conduct spotting expeditions, equipping themselves with notebooks, binoculars and cameras, and providing them with a basic photo guide with pictures and descriptions of each kind of raptor in the Broomfield area. Then they can go out on their own, find and photograph any/all raptors they can, as clearly as they can, documenting whether the birds were in a nest, in flight or perched. By comparing the markings on birds in photographs, you could determine which are residents what their territory is, and the potential for new generations, as well as how many there are. Using a volunteer taskforce, and encouraging businesses, churches and organizations to use the excursions for team building or educational exercises, challenges between groups, maybe a contest for the best captured images or largest area covered, you could gather some really essential information regarding the raptor population, and engage the community to encourage conservation.

    BillyBearJarrett asked 11 months ago

    Thank you very much for this suggestion. We are discussing this with our project team and reviewing the ways that something like this can be accomplished. At this time we do have some elements of this in place, including mapping of many nesting sites, access to state mapping through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and information provided by biologists that work on projects throughout our community. There is also a lot of information available on private online sites like eBird and iNaturalist (we do have our own page 'Broomfield Naturalists'). We are definitely interested in having 'citizen scientists' in Broomfield and increasing awareness and education around our local raptors. Two local opportunities that may be of interest are the Broomfield Bird Club, and the local Eagle Watch volunteer program.

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    Have you contacted and are you working closely with the Birds of Prey Foundation here in Broomfield? If not, you must. They will bring to the table a long legacy of hands-on interaction on many levels not only in the Broomfield area but habitats and "challenges" of surrounding jurisdictions. It is of paramount importance that you work synergistically with them to best ensure your success. I suggest that donation commitments to them be of the highest on-going priority for you, both long and short term budget planning.

    JSMOSBY asked 11 months ago

    Yes! We are working closely with the Birds of Prey Foundation on this project. We greatly value their input and have met with them about this plan (and we have delivered injured birds there ourselves). They are a key stakeholder in this process and we will continue to coordinate with their staff.

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    We have had hawks and owls nesting in the trees along Walnut Creek in Southwest Broomfield adjacent to the Skyestone development for multiple years. There are multiple proposed Developments (Simms Technology Park, Southpointe) along the creek path- how will the raptor management plan be used to constrain potential developments that would reduce raptor habitats?

    Dave F asked about 1 year ago

    This plan will carefully review raptor habitat and buffer areas for nesting sites in Broomfield near development, but any legal constraints over future development is beyond the immediate scope of this plan, and would need to be coordinated within the framework of state and federal laws, zoning, and property development rights. The plan will assess habitat and attempt to identify the sources of conflict, injury, disease or general stress on raptors, and develop best management practices to reduce those conflicts and risks. Broomfield will also continue to seek to preserve or potentially acquire available land that offers quality raptor habitat areas when possible.

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    I’m surprised we don’t have screech owls on the list. Do they breed in broomfield county?

    Phil Strobel asked about 1 year ago

    Yes, we have not seen screech owls nesting recently in Broomfield, but we certainly suspect that they do breed in the area and we do have sightings from time to time. The list here is definitely not inclusive of all raptors in Broomfield, but rather a list of the more common ones. We hope to see more screech owls, and that is a great question!

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    I’ve never seen a nesting turkey vulture. Where do they nest?

    Phil Strobel asked about 1 year ago

    Turkey vultures do not build nests. They are opportunistic in their nesting sites, but they are almost always secluded from human activities. They will nest on cliffs and crevices, on abandoned buildings, in hollowed logs or animal burrows, as well as use abandoned nests from other birds. Turkey vultures are not one of the more common raptors in Broomfield, but we do see them from time to time.

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    Do these raptors kill/compete with each other?

    mliterati asked about 1 year ago

    Yes, raptors do compete with each other for resources like nesting sites and prey. They do sometimes kill other species as a part of those conflicts. Great-horned owls are especially known to predate on other raptors, and often steal nesting sites from hawks instead of building their own.

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    Is there a place with information on ways the public can get involved?

    Kwee asked about 1 year ago

    Thank you for your question! 

    Right now the best way to get involved is to ask your questions here. As the plan progresses there will be opportunity for public comment on the draft plan and several other ways to get involved.

Page last updated: 10 Nov 2022, 03:20 PM