by Da v i D ri c h a r D s
ph o t o s b y tim en g s t r o m
businesses, including the Zumbro Falls Golf Mississippi River directly on the eagles’ only national eagle center in the country.”
Course. migratory path, where thousands of bald
If you’re adventurous, take in such gems eagles live or travel through the region.
Taking a closer look
as St. Patrick’s Catholic Church east of The building construction was completed
Those who come to the National Eagle
Zumbro Falls in Millville or go fishing in the in May of 2007, and a grand opening was
Center to see live eagles won’t be disap-
Zumbro River. held four months later.
The $4 million facility was funded by a
The facility offers four high-level spotting
Want a Putz Burger?
$230,500 federal grant awarded to the city,
scopes that enable visitors to get a close-up
When you reach Wabasha, one option is
state-matched funds of $500,000 and $3.2
look at eagles that may be perched in trees
to browse through the selection of antique
million in donations. The land was donated
along the opposite bank of the Mississippi
stores before sitting down to lunch at one
by the city.
River or that simply fly by.
of the area’s several eateries. In addition, the center is home to five of
A favorite for both locals and visitors is How it started its own eagles, including golden eagle
Slippery’s Bar & Restaurant, which plays While the center opened two years ago, Donald and bald eagles Angel, Columbia,
the film “Grumpy Old Men” throughout the effort began in 1989 when resident Harriet and Was’aka, the newest of the
the day and offers the Putz Burger. Mary Rivers organized a group of volun- feathered friends.
While both the movie and the sequel teers to do bald eagle surveys. According to center officials, Was’aka is
were not filmed in Wabasha, they were set The effort grew quickly and became the first male bald eagle at the National
there. Slippery’s features a poster that Eagle Watch Inc., a nonprofit organization. Eagle Center and came to the facility in
depicts all the filming locations. According to the group, an Eagle Watch April 28, 2009.
With a full stomach, it’s time for the Observation Deck and Outdoor Before his arrival in Wabasha, he had
main attraction. Information Center was built on the both a tumor and his lower left eyelid
Mississippi River frontage in downtown removed, leaving him blind in that eye. As a
A place for eagles
Wabasha in 1990 and was staffed by volun- result, Was’aka was unable to return to the
The National Eagle Center houses reha-
teers, who received training at the wild, similar to his National Eagle Center
bilitated eagles that can’t return to the wild
University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center counterparts. Was’aka is originally from
because of injuries. It features an elaborate
bird veterinary facility in St. Paul. Florida, and the name means strength in
gift shop that has everything from jackets
The rest is history. the Dakota language.
to bookmarks to pins and includes a
“The main purpose of the National Eagle Visitors can view the live birds in the
25-foot high deck and a river-level deck for
Center is to really celebrate the story of aviary and learn more about them through
viewing bald eagles.
America’s bird, to get people to appreciate the center’s regular eagle education classes.
The 15,000-square-foot center — 50
the eagle and what it stands for in its natu- During one class, it was feeding time for
Pembroke Ave. South in Wabasha —
ral environment,” said MaryBeth Garrigan, Harriet.
opened in 2007 and is on the bank of the
the center’s program director. “It’s the
Continued on next page
Marjorie Schwier of Minneapolis
points to the Chippewa River while
standing on a large topographic map
on the floor of the National Eagle
Center in Wabasha.
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