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Soaring in the sky

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Minnesota and Wisconsin are home to the largest population of nesting eagles in the United States outside of Alaska. That is why, if you take a stroll along the Mississippi River near Red Wing, you are bound to see the national bird.

"The state of Minnesota alone has about 700 breeding areas," Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Brittany Hauser said. "A lot of those areas are along the Mississippi River valley which serves as a migration corridor for them."

Eagles begin to congregate in November which is why the best time for viewing one in the area is from December to March.

A major factor in why this part of the Mississippi River sees such a high number of the birds is the access to open water needed for food. Most of the river freezes during the winter months with only select areas staying open because of the current. The Red Wing area is fortunate enough to be one of these areas.

If you can't make a trip to the river to view the eagles between December and March, there's still a chance you will see the bird further inland as well.

"Eagles are also scavengers," Hauser said. "They can be seen feeding on animal carcasses out in corn fields, feed on deer, rabbits, really anything that's left out."

Asked why eagles are so prevalent in Minnesota and Wisconsin as opposed to other neighboring states, Hauser said it's largely due to the population of trees. Minnesota and Wisconsin have a high population of white pines and other trees durable enough to hold up to the weight of an eagle's nest.

With a weather forecast indicating warmer temperatures upcoming, it presents a perfect chance to get outdoors and catch a glimpse of these majestic birds.

Jake Pfeifer

Jake Pfeifer is a sports reporter and outdoors editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Previously, he worked at Detroit Lakes Newspapers.

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