Conservation turns eagles into major attraction along Mississippi River

ALMA, WIS. — High above a distant river bluff peak, a pair of dark lines wheel through the sky.

“That’s the golden,” says Scott Mehus, naturalist and education director for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. The birds, probably half a mile away, appear as lines in the sky. But, as Mehus notes, even at a distance you can tell the difference between the birds. Bald eagles soar with their wings essentially straight out. Golden eagles’ wings are slanted slightly upward.

Not as much as the turkey vulture, but they are rarely spotted on the first weekend in February.

About two dozen individuals listened as Mehus explained the differences in the birds, encouraged those without zoom cameras or binoculars to use the Eagle Center’s spotting scope, and generally conducted a beginner’s course on eagles on the side of Buffalo County Road NN.