Saturday, December 13, 2008

Golden Eagles in Minnesota & Wisconsin

Photo of Don, resident golden
eagle at the National Eagle Center,
by Ecobirder.

Winter is a good time for bald-eagle-watching on the upper Mississippi. Ecobirder recently posted a piece about the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, where the river tends to stay open all winter because of the turbulent influx of the Chippewa River from Wisconsin.

I was fascinated to learn that in addition to a large winter bald eagle population, this region supports a significant winter population of golden eagles. On Golden Eagle Survey Day last January, 37 golden eagles were tallied in the greater region, mostly in Wisconsin. Having grown up in California, where the golden eagle is the state bird, I (and my resident birding expert as well) had mistakenly thought of goldens as exclusively western birds, but as the distribution map at All About Birds shows, their wintering grounds can include most of the eastern half of the United States (probably primarily for the far northern population?), though the site also describes them as "rare in the east."

A day trip to the National Eagle Center and the surrounding region is a nice winter outing. I recommend it.

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