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Eagle festival in southeastern Minnesota expects plenty of sightings

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Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

WABASHA, Minn. (AP) - Organizers for this year's Soar with the Eagles Festival here expect to see plenty of the majestic birds this weekend as temperatures increase.

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Snow and ice have kept many eagles from migrating north this winter. But with temperatures expected to reach 40 degrees on Sunday, the bald eagles could return in one big wave, said MaryBeth Garrigan, spokeswoman for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha.

"Hopefully, that southern sun and warmth will push a few eagles up here now," she said.

The festival, which marks the beginning of the eagles' migration, includes education programs, bus tours and boat excursions all centered on the birds of prey. The festival has grown after the opening of a new building for the center in 2007.

Before the new center, the organization had rented space along West Main Street and saw an average of 1,000 to 3,000 visitors a month. The new center on the Mississippi River has had as many as 10,000 visitors in one month, Garrigan said.

Visitors can view the eagles from the center's glass atrium or from an outdoor balcony on the center's second floor.

"What's nice is that you're able to see the eagles and see the river without being cold," Garrigan said.

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