DAILY U.S.G.S. FLOOD ALERT MAP

arrow-clip-art-Arrow-clip-art-16CURRENT RIVER FLOOD ALERTS

Below is the USGS interactive map that provides REAL TIME info on which Rivers in the US are cresting. The map below is accurate every day. Black Triangles indicate flood stage. Looking to compare stats with the Flood of 1993? CLICK HERE.

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See more interactive maps by clicking the category in the list to right: INTERACTIVE MAPS

Answer to Dead Birds and Christmas Joy… and the story of the Christmas Bird Count!

So what possessed Victorians to send Christmas and other greetings with illustrations of dead birds? One such card reads, “Sweet messenger of calm decays in peace Divine.”

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It may hark back to an archaic English celebration of St. Stephens Feast Day, on Dec 26, when folks went out and killed a robin… or a wren… and saved the feathers for good luck. Often young boys in the village would visit homes and exchange feathers for a treat!

During medieval times, Dec 26 was the only day when a wren, considered sacred, could be killed. In fact, “King Wren” was paraded through the village in its death box…  which may actually date back further to a Druid tradition when the priest-king of the tribe was sacrificed to avert disaster for the tribe. Over time, English robins replaced the wren as the symbol.

But were the Victorians really connecting dead birds to tribal druid kings? According to Chan Robbins from an Audubon Science video on Vimeo, another Christmas tradition evolved in New England before the turn of the century which involved birds and small mammals.

The townsmen on Christmas Day engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas “Side Hunt”: They would choose sides and go afield with their guns to shoot as many birds and species as they could that afternoon. The resultant pile of feathered (and furred) quarry were sorted by species and counted. The team which had shot the most, won.

Conservation was in its beginning stages around in that era, and many observers and scientists were becoming concerned about declining bird populations. Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the nascent Audubon Society, proposed a new holiday tradition-a “Christmas Bird Census”-that would count birds during the holidays rather than hunt them.

So began the Christmas Bird Count. Thanks to the inspiration of Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day. Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined. So there is the answer to why we have an annual bird count in the middle of our northern winter!

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English robins continue to festoon modern Christmas cards, though they are alive and nestled among poinsiettas and berries!!

With that, I would like to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas season!

Pat

 

Dead Birds and Christmas Joy?!

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What could possibly be the connection Victorians saw  between dead birds and Christmas?!

Please comment! Come back before Dec 19 to see my tie-in!

 

“It is an illustration of the song/nursery rhyme, ‘Who killed Cock Robin?’ Not very christmassy, I agree.”

“It also might have something to do with the Wren King parades in the UK that happen around Dec 26. They used to parade with a real dead bird, but I believe they use a fake bird now. Maybe some connection…image

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Birding POPS at Brownsville, MN

My favorite birder and bird photographer has posted his report on Pool 8, below. According to Alan this is the time to see Tundra swans up close at the wayside south of Brownsville! Lots of ducks, Hawks, eagles, and Pelicans. Check in south of Goose Island on Wisconsin’s Hyw 35 for more of the same!

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Greetings!

Things are finally picking up a bit on Pool 8 of the Mississippi with Tundra Swans now in close viewing distance from the Brownsville FWS Overlook. Of course, besides the swans there are plenty of other waterfowl to see as well as pelicans, eagles and other raptors.

My suggestion is that if you are thinking about going to Brownsville, this is the weekend to do it. Next week looks rainy (Mon-Wed) and then look out… It looks like our first taste of winter will be on our doorstep Thu/Fri and into next week. Looking at the computer models, they are consistently showing sharply colder temps and some of the models are showing measurable snow. The cold snap looks to last 5 days or so before moderation once again. Will it be enough to freeze up the river? Could be… or maybe not. If so, say good-bye to the show at Brownsville.

Alan Stankevitz

i wishicouldfly.com

Florida to Host Historic Map Art

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“My son gave me one of Lisa’s beautiful river maps. Beautifully framed and so appropriate for us. It brought me to tears.”
~Ann, Buffalo, IA

Click image (left) to visit online collection of all 100+ historic maps for the Mississippi River, Historic Northwest, Southwest, and the East Coast. Free shipping until DEC. 1!!

Or visit ETSY!

Let friends and family in Florida know that Lisa’s Hand-painted Historic Maps have followed our Sandhills cranes to Florida!

FLorida Historic maps 2015 shows

Show schedule follows Click Florida map (right) to see historic map art for the East coast and Florida! All show dates are subject to change. Please check back frequently!

November 7-8 Chamber South Miami, FL
Nov 12-15 Juno Beach Craft Show, FL
November 21-22 Estero Fine Art Show, FL
November 28-29 Delray Beach, FL
December 19-20 St. Petersburg Holiday of the Arts, FL
January 2-3 Naples New Year’s Art Fair, FL

 

Tundra Swans, Migrating Eagles

Anyone out to enjoy the last vestiges of fall color along the Upper Mississippi River might enjoy keeping a pair of binocs handy. Some of our larger raptors and waterfowl are on the verge of departing the area and it is a great opportunity for viewingtundra swans relatively large congregations of Egrets, Great Blue Herons, American White Pelicans. Small groups of Tundra Swans are filtering onto pool 8 and likely pool 7 already. Please comment as to where you are seeing swans.

Eagles are also abundant as the summer and winter Bald Eagles make the winter switch. Our summer residents are soon leaving for permanently open water closer to the mouth of the Ohio, Eagles from the north are moving down to their hunting snags located at the pools. Are you seeing a Golden Eagle? It’s possible!Eagles on ice

Saw 14 Eagles flying between Hwy 35 and a bluff top near Genoa on 10/29/15. Others have also reported seeing large and small clusters. Listen for their chittery calls as they interact!

Please use the Search option at the top of the page to read more from our RAMBLIN’ ON Blog about Tundra Swans and Eagles on the Upper River.

Fall Color Peaks

Backwater and bluff, fall cover idea Pat's best on Walts bestPerfectly gorgeous Fall weather…with day-time highs in the lows 60s… should continue for another week and a half into October. Get out and enjoy! Color will make a steady march south for the next several weeks. Hardwoods (hickories, maples, and finally, oaks) have begun to illuminate the bluffs! Red, and sugar maples (yellow), love the southeast facing slopes near Lansing and Mc Gregor, Iowa.

Check out the march of color in the next post. Call hotlines ahead or check online for best color in the 10 Mississippi River states!

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A few bright yellow aspens and birch still have their leaves, and hickories are sporting some orangish brown. The last leaves to drop are the oaks, so once the bluffs turn a rich uniform brown, we know the color season has nearly ended. Softwoods in the river bottoms are steadily losing leaves that never become really brilliant.

Additionally, Hummers are gone, and Sandhill cranes departed our valley. Pelicans have gathered up along the river and look like heavy clumps of pure white snow. Egrets and Great Blue Herons are still on the backwaters. Duck hunting is in full swing and adult American Bald Eagles are abundant! Color is great, but lots more to see along your route!

Fall Color HOTLINES along the Mississippi River

Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com

It’s fall and few locations in the country offer the same natural beauty as the easel-like bluffs of the Mississippi River Valley. We’ll keep you posted on color hot-spots as the season progresses, but you will also find the following sites and hotlines of interest. Peak color periods for each state are noted in paragraphs.

Arkansas. 800-628-8725; www.1800natural.com (late October to early November)


Illinois.
  800-226-6632; www.enjoyillinois.com (early October)

Kentucky. 800-225-8747;  (late October)

Minnesota. 800-657-3700; www.exploreminnesota.com (late September to mid-October)

Missouri. 800-778-1234; www.missouritourism.org (mid-to-late October)

Tennessee. 800-697-4200; www.state.tn.us/tourdev/ (early November)

Wisconsin. 800-432-8747; www.travelwisconsin.com (early through mid-October)


And don’t leave home without the indispensable guides to Mississippi River and Great River Road travel!

Every volume of DISCOVER! America’s Great River Road is filled with a variety of fascinating Mississippi River fact and lore.  Photos, maps, charts!  All Volumes contain info on birding, wildlife viewing hotspots. Each highlights Geography, interpretive history and natural history attractions along the Great River Road.  SAVE $10!!!   Purchase ALL FOUR VOLUMES of Discover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota, to Venice, Louisiana, individually signed by the author.   Four guides for $62.

 

 

WHAT’S NEW ON WWW.GREATRIVER.COM ?

 

Now Available! Quality 5×7 photo note cards featuring fall  color on the Mississippi River. Visit our online bookstore to see more options!

Return to www.Greatriver.com and the Mississippi River Home Pag!