We in Minnesota are fortunate to live so close to nature and summer is the best time to get out and visit a park, refuge, farm or zoo. Many places allow us to observe wildlife in its natural habitat and learn more about its great gift to Minnesotans.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Refuge Headquarters and Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
3815 American Blvd. E.
Bloomington, MN 55425
See bald eagles, prothonotary warblers, coyotes, trout, various migratory birds and waterfowl from Bloomington to Henderson in a 70-mile span of land and water of more than 14,000 acres. Established in 1976, these wild lands offer habitat for species threatened by commercial and industrial development. Twin Cities residents can take advantage of wildlife recreational opportunities, volunteer programs and environmental education offered by Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Become a wildlife steward by volunteering for the oak savanna restoration effort, maintenance of public facilities, trail construction, visitor center information desks, cleanup projects, school programs, office work or wildlife monitoring.
Live Eagle Program
National Eagle Center
50 Pembroke Ave.
Wabasha, MN 55981
Dates: Daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. lasting about 45 minutes
Price: $8 Adults, $6 Seniors, $5 Students
Meet one of the center’s live Eagle Ambassadors while you learn the biological facts and ecological values concerning bald and golden eagles. The center offers many seasonal programs featuring its Eagle Ambassadors. Seating is on a first come, first served basis, so it would be prudent to arrive 15 to 20 minutes in advance.
Eagles may abandon their nests or leave their chicks vulnerable to severe weather and predators due to human molestation near the nest site. As a result, the Minnesota DNR does not disclose exact nest locations. Nevertheless, it provides information on prominent eagle summertime nesting areas at the website linked above. With over 700 occupied breeding areas in Minnesota, the upper Midwest provides habitat to the largest population of nesting bald eagles in the United States outside of Alaska. Even the twin cities metropolitan area has an estimated 30 active eagle nests. Look for nests 6-8 feet wide high in large white or red pine trees, aspen or cottonwood trees near rivers and lakes. You may find eagles occupying their nest as early as January. Look for the pair taking turns incubating eggs. Young eagles may begin flying by late May to early July. They will leave the nests for good after about four weeks of practice.
Ambassadors To The Wild
International Wolf Center
1396 Old Highway 169
Ely, MN 55731
Dates: Daily through Aug. 16, 2015 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Price: $10.50 Adult, $9.50 Seniors, $6.50 Children (Ages 3-12)
Meet International Wolf Center’s Ambassador Wolves and learn about wolf physical and social adaptations. Various daily on-site programs teach wolf communication, hunting and feeding behavior as well as tools and techniques used in wolf research. See also programs on moose, raptors and beaver. The center also offers many field trip programs covering the same topics. Register in advance for day camp, overnight camping, wolf watches and workshops.
Split Rock Lighthouse
3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Dates: Now through third weekend in Oct., 2015 daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Price: $9 Adults, $7 seniors and college students, $6 children 6-17, free for children 5 and under and MNHS members.
Wildlife abounds at Split Rock Lighthouse located inside Split Rock Lighthouse State Park along the North Shore. Visitors can see birds, bears and an occasional moose throughout the year. The lighthouse is also open on Labor Day.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.