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Flying high: Record number of golden eagles spotted in annual survey

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Eagle numbers in southeastern Minnesota are soaring.

Volunteers taking part in an annual survey for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, spotted more golden eagles than ever before, the Star Tribune reports, with 136 spotted across the southeast of the state, western Wisconsin and eastern Iowa.

The previous best was 132 in 2013, the newspaper notes, and only 112 were spotted last year.

Organizers of the event said an increase in volunteers helped them to the record figure, with a group of 180 bird-spotters also tallying up 1,736 bald eagles and 566 red-tail hawks.

"That’s an amazing number of bald eagles for survey areas that are away from the Mississippi River," National Eagle Center education director Scott Mehus told the La Cross Tribune.

Golden eagle have not previously been considered a regular inhabitant of Minnesota, according to the center's website, as they are typically found in the western United States, Mexico and Canada.

But there are small breeding numbers that spend their summers in northern Ontario and then winter in Minnesota, the center says, but previous surveys in the southeast Minnesota area have generally put their numbers between 60 and 100.

Bald eagles are a more common sight in the winter, with the La Cross Tribune saying large numbers of the majestic birds can be found along the Mississippi River as they look for fish.

You can find an interactive map showing where the eagles were spotted during the survey by clicking here.

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