Monday, March 21, 2011

SOAR at the National Eagle Center

March is kind of the beginning of the bird migration here in Minnesota. Most birds migrate because there is less food during the winter. So in March as the rivers and lakes begin to thaw, those birds that rely on wetlands habitat for food begin to return to the area.
Eagles are one of the birds that begin to migrate north in March. During the winter many eagles migrate to southern Minnesota where they can find open waters to fish in. Others continue south down into Iowa, Southern Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska or other states. It all depend on how much food that their is available. Now with all of the water beginning to open up here the eagles are moving back north to their breeding territories.
In March the National Eagle Center, located in Wabasha, MN, hosts their Soar with the Eagles event. Each weekend is packed with programs to entertain and educate people about eagles, raptors and environmental issues. Thousands of people visit Wabasha during this time to check out the programs and eagle watch along the river.
I headed down to Wabasha on March 12th because I wanted to see the Cincinnati Zoo "Wings of Wonder" program. The eagle center has several classrooms that are used for educational programs but for the big programs during "Soar with the Eagles" they use a gymnasium at one of the local private schools to accommodate the large crowds. I estimate that there were a couple of hundred people or more at the program that I attended at 2pm.
The show was a mixture of different types of birds. There were several raptors that were not native to Minnesota including a Harris hawk, photo number 3, which are native to south western North America, and a spectacled owl, above which is native to Central and South America.
The program also featured several other birds that were not raptors. There were several parrots that performed flight demonstrations, speech demonstrations or other tricks. There was a Kookaburra, which is a native of Australia, that had a very interesting call and a cute little penguin that was usually found in southern South America.
The reason that I chose to travel down to Wabasha on this particular weekend was because they were bringing a Stellar's sea eagle with them. This was my first opportunity to see one of these huge birds that are native to Russia and other parts of Asia. The Stellar's sea eagle is the largest eagle species, by weight, in the world. This particular bird was a young male so he was only about 12 to 13 pounds but the females can weigh up to 20 pounds. They need the weight because they are typically found in cold harsh climates. This was a big way to finish off the program and definitely worth the drive down to Wabasha. Next weekend is the final weekend of Soar with the Eagles and the feature program is from the World Bird Sanctuary in St Louis. I would definitely recommend checking out the program if you have the chance.


Sylvia K said...

Marvelous post for the day and I love your photos! What magnificent birds!! Such a beautiful part of all of our worlds! Have a great week!


Kathiesbirds said...

That sea eagle is amazing and its beak is HUGE! I used to see Harris Hawks all the time when I lived in AZ. What a gorgeous raptor it is! Here in the Northeast where I live now I am seeing Red-shouldered hawks and today I saw my first Merlin in Massachusetts!

Aerie-el said...

Gorgeous and fascinating birds, all, but the sea eagle is incredible.

Hazel said...

The harris hawk is handsome and that spectacled owl looks like a bird in one of those fairy tales. What beautiful creatures birds are especially when info about them is shared. Thanks for that. Good day to you.

Mama Zen said...

What spectacular birds!

Martha Z said...

What a great program for bird enthusiasts. Soon many of the raptors that winter here will be leaving but a few will stay. I probably won’t be sure of seeing them daily as I do now. On my daily walk today I saw a sharp shinned, a red shouldered and a white tailed kite. There we a couple of others soaring to high for me to identify.

Anonymous said...

Those bird shots are amazing!