WABASHA, Minn. - Old Glory proudly dances in the gentle breeze atop the National Eagle Center in downtown Wabasha.
The environmental and educational center is nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River and offers a unique experience to get up close to the nation's iconic living symbol, the Bald Eagle.
While we may take for granted how often we see Bald Eagles, just 40-years ago it was rare to see this majestic creature as its existence was nearing extinction.
Ed Hahn is the Marketing Manager at the National Eagle Center. "We can get a lot of visitors here who can remember a time when seeing a wild Bald Eagle was a big deal. Kids today are completely spoiled in comparison they can ride the bus to school in the morning a see a Bald Eagle flying over the road but that used to be a really rare, life-changing event for some people," explained Hahn.
During your visit to the center take time to check out the sprawling murals, an Audobon atrium, and the chance to walk into a life-size replica of a Bald Eagle nest.
The best part of the unforgettable experience is having the opportunity to come face-to-face with three eagles.
It doesn't take long for you to recognize the magnificence of these birds when you're an arm's length away.
You're able to take in their expansive six to seven-foot wingspan, the tight grip of their talons, and the piercing shrieks of their calls.
Just remember as you're watching them, they're also watching you with their incredible vision.
"If you see an eagle that turns its head you may be seeing that eagle trying to get a better look at something using its side vision. That is the focal point that is long distance. To put it into perspective for you they can see a rabbit running on a hill about 3-miles away," said Hahn.
Although the Eagles now call the National Eagle Center home they are still very much wild animals.
During their feeding time, you have the opportunity to watch them pick at their meals, which are tightly wrapped and tied with a string, no meal is an easy free they have to work for it just as though they were still living in the wild.
While the center is focused on Bald Eagles, it offers presentations and hands-on activities, and exhibits to learn about a variety of birds.
The National Eagle Center is open year-round offering daily opportunities, no matter the season, to view these raptors.