Monday, December 8, 2008

My World: the National Eagle Center

For this weeks edition of My World I would like to introduce you to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN.
Wabasha,MN is a small community located along the Mississippi River about an hours drive south of the Twin Cities. In 1989 Mary Rivers, a member of a Wabasha Chamber of Commerce Committee looking to revitalize the economy of the small town and preserve it's non-industrial riverfront, founded a group called Eagle Watch, Inc.
Rivers had been fascinated with eagles and believed that the rebounding winter population of eagles in the area around Wabasha could be a great tourist attraction for the city.
So Eagle Watch, Inc sent a group of volunteers up to The Raptor Center for training so that they could staff a unused boat landing that the city donated to be used as an eagle observation deck. The observation deck opened in 1990 and brought over 1000 visitors to the town.
Eagle Watch, Inc continued to bring more tourists to Wabasha each year and with their continuing success they were able to expand their operations. In 1996 a visitor's center was opened in an empty store front near the observation deck. In 1999 Congress designated the facility the National Eagle Center and in 2007 the National Eagle Center opened its brand new facility, which you see pictured here.
The new building is located directly on the riverfront. It's many windows, all of which have clings on to break up any reflective pattern which may cause a bird to fly into it, over look the river where you can often see wild eagles flying. Wabasha is located just south of where the Chippewa River, coming out of Wisconsin, empties into the Mississippi. Since the Chippewa is a swift moving river and the Mississippi is slow at this point, since it is just coming out of Lake Peppin, the water is churned and does not typically freeze during the winter. This open water brings many eagles into the area during the winter time. Wabasha is also the northern border of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
Inside the facility there are display areas, classrooms, a gift shop and the housing area for the centers resident eagles. There is also a 25' high as well as a river level observation deck with scopes and binos for visitors to use.
The center is currently home for 3 resident bald eagles. At 26 years Harriet, pictured above, is the oldest of the three. Harriet is the big star of the center. She has appeared before politicians and celebrities, has been on TV with Stephan Colbert and Jeff Corwin, and appears on the Minnesota Veteran's License Plate.
Columbia is the newest of the bald eagles, although it looks from their website that they are in the process of getting a new bald eagle. She came to the center in 2003, shortly after the Columbia Shuttle tragedy, and was named in memory of the shuttles crew.
Angel is my favorite of the three bald eagles. She always has attitude and is not afraid to show her personality. When I took this pic Angel had spotted a wild eagle flying across the river and had to let him know who was the boss.
The newest edition to the National Eagle Center family is a golden eagle named Don. Don's addition has been significant because the center has been very involved in studying the population of migrating golden eagles that spends the winter in the area. Over the past few years the center has organized an annual survey to count the golden eagles wintering in the lower Mississippi Valley in Minnesota as well as Wisconsin and northern Iowa. Each year as more volunteers participate in the survey more golden eagles are spotted.

22 comments:

2sweetnsaxy said...

Wow! What amazing shots of the eagles. Very cool!

fishing guy said...

EB: Nicely posted with my favorite bird. You got to capture them butifully and that Golden Eagle really gave you the eagle eye.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Brilliant idea to attract tourists. And a great way ti educate people about raptors!

ewok1993 said...

What an amazing post. Thanks for introducing the eagles.

Sara G said...

Great post and beautiful photo's!!
Take care and thank you for sharing your part of the world with us.

troutbirder said...

You done good eco on one of my favorite area - eagle watching and fishing.

Leora said...

Lots of neat photos here. The wall impression of the eagle is cool, as are the eagles on display. One had a nice reflection (the shop). Love the bridge over the river.

babooshka said...

A dedicated birder this is my kind of post and place. Those head shots are so majestic.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Great post ... and photos. It looks cold up there. Just how cold you may ask? Check out my "MyWorld" post and you'll see. (I compare MN temperatures to ours in south Florida.)

Wren said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. I've been to the raptor center, but didn't know about the National Eagle Center. I'm already thinking of reasons to visit.

Leedra said...

Great post, love all the eagle photos, so good. Also, like the brick art, husband is in the brick business so I have seen alot of brick art, this is one of the best.

dowhatyoulove said...

That looks like quite the place. Thanks for sharing.

Lilli & Nevada said...

What a great and informative post of the Eagle. They are so beautiful

pcpach said...

Thanks for sharing. We don't see many bald eagles here in the northeast. In my lifetime I've only seen them out in the wild 3 times.

Deslilas said...

Very fine and instructive blog !
Thanks

Shellmo said...

This seems like my kind of place to visit! Loved the expressions you captured on the eagles along w/ the descriptions of their personalities. Angel's was perfect!

The Good Life in Virginia said...

i loved reading your post...and learned a great deal in the process. the eagles are so dear and i am glad that someone is making an effort to preserve them.

thank you for sharing...

ramblingwoods said...

What a treat to get to see the eagles up close..thank you for that..

Powell River Books said...

We have eagles much of the year here in Coastal BC, but it is during the salmon spawning season that you see them in greater numbers. Often I will see a bald eagle soaring on the currents over our cabin up Powell Lake. I invite you to come see how easy it is to get to Powell River in case you want to see some great birds. -- Margy

Arija said...

Your wondeful Rator world has me enthralled. A lovely post, and yes, your favourite eagle is mine as well.

Penelope said...

I had no idea that golden eagles winter in this area. I've just added a post on Penelopedia about this fact, with a link to your post. I hope you don't mind that I used a small view of your photo of Don the golden eagle (with attribution). Let me know if that's a problem. Thanks!

Allison said...

So cool! I wish I had something like this near me so I could work at it.