After a good night’s rest in LaCrosse, we continued up river route towards the National Eagle Center in Wabasha Minnesota. Part of the reason for our timing of this trip, aside from the workmen at the house was Choice hotels was running a promotion give you a free night after two separate stays. This way 4 nights on the road at a reasonable price will net us two free night accommodations in the future. Not a bad deal, and I like a deal when it’s actually something I can use and not something someone else wants me to like.
The National Eagle Center has been located in Wabasha since about 1990. We have made a few visits there over the years but it’s been several years since our last return. They do rehabilitation and housing of eagles, both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles, and a lot of public education.
There were four resident eagles on our visit. One Golden Eagle and three Bald Eagles. They are all birds who have been injured (typically in automobile accidents) or have medical conditions making their survival in the wild impossible. It’s really something to be a couple feet from these majestic creatures. And there are many folks who visit the center because they feel some particular attraction to our national symbol — often wanting to be photographed alongside one of them.
The center is located on the shore of the Mississippi. This location was chosen not only because eagles can often be found here but it’s one area along the river that rarely freezes over. The Chippewa joins the Mississippi just north of here and the added turbulence helps keep the water flowing almost all the time.
The Southward migration typically gets started in November, so we’re a bit early for peak viewing opportunities but mid winter it’s not unusual to be able to view a couple dozen eagles. We are hoping to return this year in February or March for another look-see.
It’s hard to believe that an adult eagle will have some 7,000 feathers. They are well suited for their often frigid lifestyle — after all, we all know how warm “down” jackets can be. They seem to relish hunting on the ice for fish, can be seen riding “Eagle Canoes” (hunks of ice floating down the frigid partially frozen river).
We have done a good job of rescuing our national symbol from the brink of extinction. Of course the shame is that we ever let them become endangered. Unfortunately we are doing the same thing with other species of many different animals — as if we didn’t need the diversity of nature. Some day, I hope before we have done too much damage to Momma Nature, we’ll be smarter.
Environmental issues have always been important to me. We’ve tried to do our part for the planet in the ways available to us. Since the 60’s when attention was focussed on the Bald Eagle I have been alternately elated and depressed by the parade of different species facing extinction, and weighed against the interests of business. It’s always when business manages to use jobs as a way of excusing their lust for profit when an endangered species is found that jeopardizes one of their construction projects.
It truly seems as if the only species that is a danger to other species is humans. Wherever we go we have a negative impact on the wildlife that lived there before we arrived. We seem to think that just because we want to do something that any and all other species have to surrender their lives to please us. We surely wouldn’t be very happy if some superior species were to treat us like we treat animals.
We ended up the day in Hudson WI. I guess it was about 125 miles for the day’s drive.