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National Eagle Center celebrates winter migration

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RED WING, Minn. -- Eagles, hawks, water fowl and other creatures are on their way.

"This is the time. They are coming south," said Alison Springer. And the National Eagle Center in Wabasha is ready for them.

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A migration celebration lifts off this weekend at the center, which is situated on the Mississippi River, and continues through Nov. 22. This area sees the largest population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states.

"It's not just a single weekend," added Springer, who is the new marketing manager for the eagle center. Spreading activities over three weekends gives the public more opportunities to learn and enjoy watching the southern migration in progress.

The center's best-known resident, Harriet, will make a trip of her own ... to New York City. She has been invited to appear on the "Today" show on NBC-TV Friday morning.

Author and television personality Jeff Corwin is coming on the show to talk about endangered species, explained Scott Mehus, education director at the center. Corwin invited Harriet to represent species that have returned from the brink of extinction. He also will have two creatures representing still-endangered species on the program.

Mehus and Bucky Flores, another staff member, will accompany Harriet.

They'll be back in Wabasha for the migration celebration, however. Full weekends are planned Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 14-15 and Nov. 21-22. The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but will extend hours to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday during the festival.

Art weekend

Opening weekend has been designated art weekend, with special guests Dick Mindkowski of Eau Claire, Wis., who makes walking sticks and dream catchers, and a chainsaw carving artist outside the building both days. Karen Lewis of Winona, Minn., a watercolor painter, will be on hand Saturday only.

Musical entertainment Saturday will include the Rochester Music Men, a barbershop choir, at noon and 2 p.m. Flute player Ed Legace of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Winona will play all day Saturday and present a program at 2 p.m.

Other special programs:

• Guided boat tours aboard a 37-passenger pontoon boat, with eagle center staff on board, at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. both days, weather permitting. Reservations are recommended by calling the center at (651) 565-4989. Cost is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for children, with a family maximum of $40.

• Pigeon release during the noon hour Saturday and Sunday. The Red Cedar Racing Pigeon Club from western Wisconsin will release pigeons, which will fly home to the Menomonie area.

• Educational feeding programs at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily. The center now has five resident eagles: Harriet, Angel, Columbia and Wasaka (Native American for strength), the newest bald eagle, and a golden eagle, Donald.

• Tundra swan migration. Mehus will make a presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Nov. 14-15

Cody the Buffalo from near Houston, Minn., who has appeared in movies and commercials will be at the center all day both days. It'll actually be Cody II; Cody I appeared in films including "Dances with Wolves."

On Saturday only Rod Johnson of the Minnesota Archaeological Society will discuss flint knapping and primitive technology and Amanda Baribieau from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will present "Getting the Lead Out" of ammunition and tackle boxes.

Mehus will talk about the hawk migration at noon Sunday only.

Nov. 21-22

Migration of other species will be featured the final weekend.

On Saturday only, the Fish and Wildlife Service will talk about turtle and duck migration. There will be a program at 1:30 p.m. on monarch butterflies and at 2 p.m. Teresa Newton of the U.S. Geological Service will talk about freshwater mussel migration in Lake Pepin, based on research at Pool 8 south of Wabasha.

Entertainment at noon Saturday will feature the St. Paul Indian Magnet School dancers. Mehus will talk about golden eagles and his research on them at noon Sunday only.

Boat tours, a pigeon release and feeding classes also are planned.

Although programs and activities other than the boat tours are free, there is an admission charge at the eagle center. For more information on the center and its programs, go online to www.nationaleaglecenter.org.

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