By Anica Padilla

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Colo. ) — An eaglet died in Westminster on Thursday, after an old cottonwood tree split down the middle — causing the nest to collapse. The eaglet had just turned five weeks old and was beginning to stretch its wings, but was not expected to fledge the nest until late summer. This was the only remaining bald eagle nest at Standley Lake Regional Park.

Eaglet “SL1” in the nest with a parent on May 6, 2021. (credit: Standley Lake Regional Park)

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“Our hearts are heavy,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “We mourn with all of you today and understand how painful it has been to watch the tragic events transpire at this nest over the last year.”

Officials say winds were not high at the time, but the tree was old — “mostly dead and decayed.”

Eaglet “SL1” in the nest with a parent on May 13, 2021. (credit: Standley Lake Regional Park)

The eaglet, known as “SL1” will be moved to the National Eagle Repository at Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

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“The eaglet will be cremated and buried with a sacred ceremony in a blessed burial site located in Rocky Mountain Arsenal and National Wildlife Refuge,” officials said. “This site was created specifically for eagle burial by Tribal representatives from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Oglala Lakota, and Southern Ute.”

Eaglet “SL1” in the nest with a parent on May 7, 2021. (credit: Standley Lake Regional Park)

Members of the park staff are working on a plan to restore a safe and secure home for the adult eagles that remain in the area.

Last month, a dead tree supporting a nest for a pair of bald eagles at Barr Lake State Park was discovered fallen — and the two unborn eaglets were found dead, still curled in the shape of their egg shells.

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Anica Padilla