Prime eagle viewing season in the Faribault area
By Audrey Kletscher Helbling
The pair soared overhead—the young one and the elder—their wings spanning wide, catching the wind. Below, standing first in the parking lot next to Two Rivers Park and later across the road along a riverside trail, I watched.
The majesty of the bald eagles drew my focused attention as I zoomed my camera, willing them to fly lower. But on this Sunday afternoon in Faribault, there would be no such closeness. I settled for observing the pair circling and flying high in this area where the Cannon and Straight Rivers join.
March marks prime eagle viewing season in Minnesota. While eagles once could be spotted in southeastern Minnesota primarily within the Mississippi River Valley, they are now prevalent in many places, including Rice County. Several years ago I saw a bald eagle close up along Fourth Avenue Southwest just blocks from my Faribault home. And this past August, while dining one evening at The Depot Bar & Grill near downtown, I watched an eagle swoop along the Straight River. And now this sighting, in the area of the Rice County Fairgrounds/Historical Society. My husband and I tried to find the nest, without success. He sees eagles often in this location.
I’ve also observed an eagle perched in a tree south of Union Lake Trail along Rice County Road 46 in the northern section of the county. Eagles can frequently be spotted, too, along Minnesota State Highway 3 between Faribault and Northfield by the Cannon River near the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Showgrounds.
Another area resident reports daily sightings of eagles—sometimes up to four—from his west Warsaw home near the Cannon River. He suggests looking for eagles along the stretch of Minnesota State Highway 60 between Warsaw and Morristown.
Further to the southwest, I once saw numerous eagles settled in trees several miles north of Waseca along Minnesota State Highway 13.
If you’re searching for eagles, you will find them in this region of Minnesota, most often near rivers. With trees bare of foliage, these beautiful birds are more visible this time of year.
March is an ideal time to pull on the boots, the winter coat (or lighter jacket depending on the day), cap and mittens to walk recreational trails throughout Faribault, at River Bend Nature Center and/or at the Faribault Energy Park. Or follow the Sakatah Lake Trail west out of town into the countryside. Pause, too, to just hang out in a riverside park to absorb the sunshine, to feel the wind, to watch the water.
There’s a certain beauty in the wending of the river, the rush of water over dams, the gliding and flight of ducks that signal the movement of seasons from winter toward spring.
There’s beauty also in the starkness of bare woods, textured bark, footprints in the snow.
About the author: Audrey Kletscher Helbling writes from her home in an old Faribault neighborhood. She blogs at mnprairieroots.com and is a regionally-recognized poet and writer with a passion for photography.