On a beautiful sunny Minnesota spring day, we decided to head over to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota after we had breakfast. Where to have breakfast though … that was the question. We decided to drive towards Wabasha in search of a place and my husband located a restaurant in Prescott, Wisconsin that he thought might be good so we drove there only to find out it was closed. So, we drove onward to Red Wing, Minnesota where we ran into a restaurant called Bev’s Cafe.
Bev’s is like a greasy spoon cafe — small, quaint yet vibrant. There were many locals here — an older crowd mostly. The conversations were lively and we listened in on a large table of retired men as they talked of trucks speeding down the highway. Jocularity, jocularity — that was the mood (so unlike yesterday’s quiet breakfast at The Bad Waitress in Minneapolis).
We were greeted and served immediately. There aren’t too many interesting things on the menu — just the “regular” breakfast items — but it has just enough to make it worthwhile to eat here.
While eating breakfast, I noticed a man walk in and sit down. Peeking around the booth where we were sitting, I did a double take. The man was wearing an old fashioned hat with glasses. His face looked familiar and for a moment, and then another moment, I thought it was my uncle — Padrino. I knew it couldn’t be him because he passed away over a year ago. Still — it was kind’ve spooky. Has that ever happened to you?
But, I digress, — onward to the National Eagle Center on Route US 61 heading south. The drive took about 35 minutes or so from Red Wing.
The National Eagle Center looks small on the outside — and it is small on the inside also.
As you enter the front doors, there is a gift shop along with a place to pay your entrance fee. The place was bustling with many people and it appeared a group of children were here from a school (a small school, thankfully).
We arrived just as they were going to have an eagle presentation which is done in a large classroom with seats facing forward. The eagle presentation was done by a young woman and later she would bring an eagle into the classroom. How exciting!
I did not realize that eagles can see very clearly up to 2.5 miles. Nor did I realize that their wingspan is 7 feet wide. I was definitely learning something here.
The presenter was very vivacious and geared her talk towards children with lots of jokes and questions. Laughs rang out when she told us that eagles can poop up to 7 feet away — so sorry for those who sat in the first few rows she said. Oh, and please keep your mouth closed, she cautioned. hahahaha
She showed us a piece of meat that she would be feeding to the eagle that she brought in. Care to guess what kind of meat this is?
If you guessed rabbit, you’d be right! The Center gets their meat, i.e. fish, rabbit, etc. from local area farms.
After some questions and answers, she left and came back with an eagle. This particular eagle had been hit by a car and would not be able to fly again nor will any of the ones who they have held in captivity here.
The presenter offered the rabbit meat to the eagle and he was not interested. Some of the eagles are very picky about what they will or will not eat.
One word of caution — although the eagle can’t fly, he does spread his wings and his feathers fly in the air. One lady’s asthma started bothering her because of this.
After the 45 minute or so presentation, we headed back to look at the other eagles that were there because of injury. One eagle is 32 years old and has lost most of her sight — her name is Harriet. Most eagles can only survive 20-25 years in the wild but eagles in captivity can live up to 40 years.
The eagle below is Columbia who was feeding on dead deer back in 2001 in the state of Wisconsin when a car struck her and broke her wing near the shoulder. She had surgery and physical therapy but was still not able to fly.
Below is a picture of Donald, a golden eagle who was hit by a car in California. His right wing broke in two places and the California Raptor Center was not able to repair it so now he’s a member at this Center.
You can get quite close to these eagles although you’re not allowed to touch them. They have quite a firm grip and can squeeze up to 400 pounds.
The center has an observation deck and also sells binoculars (in case you forget to bring your own).
Here’s the view from the observation deck.
There are viewing binoculars on the observation deck and across the river you can see an eagle perched. Can you see him?
Here’s a closer look at the perched eagle. See him now?
Another eagle tidbit I learned is that they are territorial and consequently nest about 1 mile apart from each other. If another eagle goes in their space they make quite a ruckus.
After we finished the eagle tour, we headed into town to get some hot chocolate and coffee and happened to go into the Eagles Nest Coffee House. The place is quite spacious and the woman who took our order had a very strong accent which at first I couldn’t understand because I have difficulty hearing.
I apologized to the woman because I had to ask her several times to repeat herself. She was quite gracious and told me that she and her husband had moved here from Australia because this is where her husband wanted to retire.
This coffee shop has a cozy feel and everyone is friendly. Off in the corner I saw a few women meeting under a sign that said “quilting.” We’ll have to stop here again if we ever drive back this way.
It was a perfect day for this trip and we decided to head back home along the Mississippi River but on the Wisconsin side along Wisconsin 25/State Road 35.
Happy thoughts to you!