Dispatch: Eagles on the Mississippi

  • Updated: April 10, 2014 - 3:09 PM

“Along the Chippewa and Zumbro rivers, the eagles’ nests average about one every mile. But near Wabasha, along the backwaters of the Mississippi, the eagles’ nests can be much closer together, because there are more food resources. The extensive shallow backwater habitat means food is more easily caught. Just north of town, by Reads Landing, there are two nests less than a fourth of a mile apart. When the second nest was being built a couple of years ago, we thought it was the same pair of eagles building what we call an ‘auxiliary nest.’ We were surprised to find two different pairs raising families in those two different nests. The National Eagle Center is on the 261-mile Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. That 261-mile stretch has 313 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Between 1968 and 1972, that same stretch of river had only one nesting pair. Because of DDT and other factors, that’s all we had left. So to have 313 today is quite an amazing success story.”

Scott Mehus, education director, National Eagle Center

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