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Our birds of prey


Up to 2,500 bald eagles winter near the Mississippi River’s locks and dams because open water makes it easier to fish for dinner. That’s why we consider this the time of year to seek out the once-endangered raptor.

The population estimate comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and most bald eagles head north to nest as weather warms toward the beginning of spring.

Are 2,500 bald eagles a lot? That depends. Up to 500,000 lived in the U.S. during the 1700s. Fewer than 450 nesting pairs existed 50 years ago in the lower 48 states. Now there are at least 4,000.

A pro’s advice for travelers


So many travel stories concentrate on exotic and extravagant destinations that have huge budgets for marketing and promotion. We all know they are off-limits to average people because of the excess and expense.

Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel columns, magazines and books are a longstanding exception. His guidebook “Europe on $5 a Day,” published in 1956, was the first title of almost 180 that bear his name. (“Europe on $95 a Day was published in 2007.)

Beer on the menu


Cooking with alcohol used to mean little beyond a splash of beer in a crock of cheese soup or tub of simmering brats. Now ales, stouts and spirits show up in almost all courses, if you know where to look.

The Brown Bottle, a tasting room and tavern for Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewing Co. since 1938, recently reopened after four years of closure.

Big city, farm food


Downtown Chicago might seem about as far away as you can get from rural America, but think again.

At Farmhouse Chicago restaurant, an antique tractor grill covers the hostess stand, steel pipes are stairway handrails and simple cotton kitchen towels are napkins. On display are collectible toy tractors, walls are whitewashed and accoutrements include a salvaged Toledo scale.

Winter romance


What cracks the deepest freeze of winter? A warm heart, and February is just the time to stoke up a little romance. Here are some ways to woo your Valentine.

— Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, opens its Cathedral Room and more to couples from 5-7 p.m. Feb 14. This by-reservation opportunity is only for people at least 21 years old.

Rosemont tempts O’Hare travelers


I am a fickle consumer when it comes to airline transportation and spend way too much time weighing fares and gateways. I favor no airline but repeatedly head to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport because of often-remarkable price differences compared with Wisconsin options.

When a deep discount means spending a night in the area because of odd flight times, I typically book cheap lodging, hold my breath and get in and out fast. Now the rejuvenated village of Rosemont, Ill., tempts travelers to consider doing more and staying longer.

Paralympic skiers to race in Cable


If you look at winter as a season of limitations, head to Cable and the Chequamegon National Forest in southern Bayfield County for a profoundly different perspective.

I’m not talking about the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski races in February, held since 1973, although the demonstration of athleticism, endurance and grit is bold.

So many ‘Places to See’


Patricia Schultz was raised in Beacon, N.Y., a Hudson River town with some of our nation’s earliest settlements and the late folkster Pete Seeger as a hometown icon. She calls the city “a real Norman Rockwell corner of the world.”

“I had a lovely childhood, but it wasn’t quite enough for me,” says the author of the 2003 bestseller “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” an ambitious book that was a fast hit and published four years before “The Bucket List” was released as a film.

For the love of bratwurst


You say you love bratwurst? Germany’s Bavaria is centuries ahead of us in that regard, and now a new exhibit in Nuremberg’s local history museum is devoted to the sausage.

The show about Nuremberg Rostbratwurst fills the first level of Stadtmuseum Fembohaus and is a first step toward deciding whether the city should open a permanent bratwurst museum.

For the love of bratwurst


You say you love bratwurst? Germany’s Bavaria is centuries ahead of us in that regard, and now a new exhibit in Nuremberg’s local history museum is devoted to the sausage.

The show about Nuremberg Rostbratwurst fills the first level of Stadtmuseum Fembohaus and is a first step toward deciding whether the city should open a permanent bratwurst museum.

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