Sad Update From One of Minnesota’s Popular Spots
Do you remember a time when seeing a bald eagle was rare in the United States? In 1978, when I was just a tiny baby, the bald eagle was listed as endangered or threatened in all of the lower 48 states. Rarely would we see a bald eagle and when we did, my parents freaked out and made sure that I saw it flying in the sky.
Thanks to a lot of work by individuals and organizations that cared about our national bird, it is flourishing and in 2007 was removed from the endangered species list. I drive to La Crosse, Wisconsin quite a bit and one of my favorite moments is when I can spot a bald eagle while I'm driving near the Mississippi River. I'm in awe every time at the majesty of this bird.
Sad News From One of Minnesota's Favorite Spots - National Eagle Center
When I moved to Minnesota 25 years ago from Iowa, I had no idea that a magical place existed near the Mississippi River. It wasn't until I had kids and was looking for something fun to do that we'd all enjoy that I found a place called the National Eagle Center. As soon as I saw it and the beauty of the state around it, especially the Mississippi River, I fell in love.
Earlier this week the National Eagle Center shared some sad news that I know its supporters and friends had a difficult time hearing.
❤️ SAYING GOODBYE TO A TRUE SURVIVOR - THANK YOU, AMBASSADOR COLUMBIA ❤️
It is with the heaviest of hearts that our team at the National Eagle Center announces the sudden and unexpected passing of our longtime resident, Ambassador Columbia, at the age of 22. With her trademark grey feather streaks behind her eyes and named in honor of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, she was a distinctive eagle and a visitor favorite at the National Eagle Center since 2003.
In the New Year, Columbia began to exhibit some unusual and concerning behavior that prompted our Avian Care to team take her for an unscheduled visit to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center on January 8. It was discovered during that check-up that she had developed a condition known as Atherosclerosis, an incurable condition where thickened plaque mineralizes in the arteries making it difficult for the heart to circulate blood throughout the body. While we were unsure of how long she would continue to be with us (we had hoped for a couple of months longer to allow people to say goodbye), her condition deteriorated quite rapidly and she was no longer able to stand up and had lost motor function. Not wanting to prolong any suffering, our team in consultation with her vets decided to humanely euthanize her.
While this news is sudden, painful, and heartbreaking, it is important to remember just how incredible Ambassador Columbia’s life was! Originally rescued following a wing injury in northern Wisconsin in 2001 that left her unable to fly, it was discovered by her rehabbers that she was also suffering from acute lead poisoning, a fatal situation for most eagles. Columbia’s lead exposure was on the high end making her recovery and subsequent 22-year lifespan (a full life by wild Bald Eagle standards) truly remarkable! Columbia touched countless lives and inspired guests for two decades, educating about the dangers of lead in the environment to eagles and wildlife.
Ambassador Columbia’s legacy lives on, and her important education and advocacy for the removal of lead from the environment will continue in her memory. Unable to fly from very early in her life, she now soars high and free forever!
THANK YOU, COLUMBIA! ❤️
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Gallery Credit: Jessica Williams