Remembering Donald:
Golden Eagle Ambassador

While his age was unknown, Donald lived a full life as a teacher of his species. As our male Golden Eagle ambassador, Donald taught us about the biology, behavior, and habitat of golden eagles.

Before coming to Wabasha, Donald was struck by a car in California and was treated at the California Raptor Center in 2008. He was unable to fly and could no longer survive in the wild.

At the Center, he was named for the Donald Weesner Foundation, which provided initial funding for him to come to the National Eagle Center.

In 2020, our avian care staff observed Donald having trouble balancing, changing perches, and eating food. It was suspected that some of these changes might be the result of a stroke. A visit to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota showed he had lost feeling in some of his toes. Eagles, in the wild and in human care, require strong, healthy legs and feet in order to survive.

With this poor prognosis, National Eagle Center staff made every effort to ensure Donald’s safety and comfort until he died.

  • Male
  • Died in 2020
  • Rescued in California
  • National Eagle Center ambassador since 2008
“Donald lived two entire lives: one as a wild golden and the second, with all of us, as an indispensable teacher and inspiration to anyone lucky enough to have met him.”

– Tiffany Ploehn, Avian Care Manager at the Center

About Golden Eagles

Golden Eagles are found worldwide. In North America, they are primarily found in the western states. Golden Eagles do not breed in Minnesota or Wisconsin, but they are regular winter residents of the bluff lands of southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa known as the Driftless Region.

Bald and Golden Eagles are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Act.

The National Eagle Center’s Golden Eagle Survey is contributing to the world’s knowledge of this species by surveying the regional population and studying their habitat use and migration patterns.

For more than 10 years, the Golden Eagle Survey has been conducted annually to better understand the biology and management needs of Golden Eagles and support their conservation. Learn more here.

Want to support Donald’s legacy and other Golden Eagles?

Become a National Eagle Center member!

Your membership directly supports the care of our Eagle Ambassadors and innovative educational programming. Learn more about how to become a member and the additional perks that are available.