March may be an unpredictable month weather-wise, however with the turning of the calendar typically comes the first signs of spring: extended daylight, melting snow, temperatures that reach above freezing, etc. But for southern Minnesotans, another surefire sign of spring is the eagle migration. This migration is in full swing during the month of March when the eagles make their way back to their nesting territories, using the Mississippi River as a flyway back north and source of food for the trip.
No one celebrates this migration more than the National Eagle Center, an interpretive center in Wabasha, who marks the occasion with the Soar with the Eagles festival, taking place each weekend throughout the month. Each has its own theme, with featured events occurring at the St. Felix Auditorium, located just a few blocks from the center. However, no matter which weekend you decide to stop by, you’ll have the chance to check out the live eagle program, get your picture taken with one of the birds, see guest presenters and exhibitors, enter in a raffle, and take advantage of the center’s other offerings. (Read more about the center in this previous Journeys blog post by Ellie M. Bayrd.)
March 2 & 3: As a part of this Wild World of Animals themed weekend, visitors will be able to meet a warthog, alligator, and mandrill, as well as learn about binturongs and coatimundis. Two-legged guests will include author Jan Dunlap, who will discuss raising nature-smart kids, naturalist Kirk Payne, whose program will include live animals and birds, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife service rangers who will teach about the ducks of the Upper Mississippi River region.
March 9 & 10: This World Bird Sanctuary weekend is all about our feather friends, with opportunities to meet birds from around the world, including several eagles not found in the North American wild, as well as Alice the Owl, who will be visiting from the Houston Nature Center. Naturalist David Strokes will also be there, engaging audiences with his live animal friends.
March 16 & 17: Coming from Niabi Zoo in Illinois, a scarlet macaw, ecletus parrot, Russian tortoise, Burmese python, and two-toed sloth will all be in attendance for the zoo-themed weekend. Visitors can also enjoy the Animals Nobody Loves program, hear eagle tales from around the world as told by naturalist Kevin Strauss, and see images and listen to the stories of Preston Cook, a collector of all things eagle.
National Eagle Center
March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
50 Pembroke Avenue, Wabasha
Tip: If you’re going to make the trip to Wabasha, see if you can make your way down there on the Great River Road.