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Pat Middleton is the founder/publisher of the Mississippi River Home Page at www.greatriver.com and Great River Publishing which has produced quality river heritage and natural history books since 1987.

Perfect Father’s Day Gift!

***** “Beautiful art map and print quality! I loved the unusually size!” ~ Laura.

***** “I ordered the Mississippi River map and love it! The map itself looks good, but I also like the size– narrow and long (not an “ordinary” size in comparison to other items I have on my walls).”

Visit greatriverarts.com for special pricing

For every Dad who loves the Mississippi River, we have a beautiful print of Lisa Middleton’s hand-painted Mississippi River Historic Map or custom design! The 5″ x40″ (approx) map print of the entire length of the 1887 Mississippi River is beautiful when framed! But there are many more: historic maps include Zebulan Pike’s 1805 map of the Upper Mississippi River. Our French Les Etats Unis dates from the mid-18th century and is incredibly detailed

Lisa’s custom designs include maps of Lake Pepin, the Nat’l Mississippi River Park through Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Driftless Region, and many more!

***** “Beautiful map of my beloved native Driftless home! I really like the painterly quality to it. Using it in my gallery display of nature ephemera from the Driftless.” ~Whitney.

Click here to see Upper and Lower Mississippi River maps on greatriverarts.com Click here to see more testimonials!

Eagle Count from Crawford County

Today’s Bald Eagle count from the Campion Boat Landing to Gremore Lake
came in at 374.  Most eagles were sitting on the ice of Gremore Lake. 
Best spots to see the birds is from the parking lot at the Crooked Oar
Bar and Restaurant or south of the bar along the roadway in the seasonal
mobile home park. 

The Crooked Oar is north of Prairie du Chien on County Road K.  N. Main St. in Prairie du Chien becomes Cty Rd K when leaving the city.  Another 35-40 eagles were seen flying overhead on my return trip to town but not counted as they may have already been counted.

“ Report from Dennis Kirschbaum

Explore Minnesota Map Art

The Minneapolis Star Tribune featured today the Gunflint Trail above Grand Marais in Minnesota. Makes me think folks might just enjoy exploring our maps of Minnesota painted by Lisa Middleton. An easy place to start is with our Gunflint Trail map!

But we have many more maps of favorite lakes, historic maps, original art! Great to explore on a winter afternoon! Click here:

https://great-river-arts.myshopify.com/searchtype=product&q=Minnesota+great+lakes


Become a Volunteer Iowa Bald Eagle Nest Monitor!

Two Training Opportunities to Become a Volunteer Bald Eagle Nest Monitor

Calling all wildlife watchers! The Iowa DNR will be hosting two live online training workshops for anybody interested in becoming a volunteer bald eagle nest monitor in Iowa. Prospective nest monitors must attend one of the two scheduled workshops. The workshops will be held via Zoom on Saturday February 20th from 10:00 am to noon OR Monday February 22nd from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Community science volunteers have been helping to monitor Iowa’s eagle population since 2006. Workshop participants will learn about this program and how to get involved and monitor a nest in their area of the state. Iowa has over 400 active bald eagle nests across the state plus many more that have an unknown status. In 2020, volunteer nest monitors collected data on roughly 250 of these nests!

Program coordinator Stephanie Shepherd explains, “With more than 1000 wildlife species in the state, we just don’t have enough staff in the DNR to adequately monitor all the vulnerable species that need attention. This is where community scientists play a crucial role.”

To be a bald eagle nest monitor you will need a pair of binoculars and preferably a spotting scope. Nest monitors are particularly needed in the following counties; Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Floyd, Greene, Guthrie, Henry, Jones, Lucas and Winneshiek Counties; but interested people anywhere in the state are welcome. We will try to match you up with a nest near your home base. The time commitment for conducting the survey and submitting data is roughly 6 hours total between March and July each year and will require multiple visits to a nest.

Each workshop will be limited to 20 households and a $5.00 fee is required. Registration will close on February 17th at 5 pm or whenever the 20 household per workshop limit has been reached. Direct questions to Stephanie Shepherd at vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov

Interested volunteers must register for one of two training workshops. Workshops are limited to 20 households each. Registration will close when that number of registrants has been reached or on February 17th, 2021, whichever comes first. 

  • February 20, 2021 – Saturday – 10:00am to 12:00pm. The zoom session will open at 9:50am to allow people to get in and get settled. The workshop will start promptly at 10am.
  • February 22, 2021 – Monday – 6:30pm to 8:30 pm. The zoom session will open at 6:20pm to allow people to get in and get settled. The workshop will start promptly at 6:30pm.

There is a $5 fee to cover workshop materials. For more information and to register, go to www.iowadnr.gov/vwmp or e-mail vwmp@dnr.iowa.gov

Eagle Watching in the Time of Covid

I will begin posting 2021 Bald Eagle Watching events in the Upper Midwest as I learn of them. The events celebrate the opportunity we have had to observe the comeback of American Bald Eagles from the endangered species list. According to the DNR, bald eagle populations in Wisconsin have grown from 108 occupied nests in 1973 to almost 1,700 in 2019.

To read more about the evolution of public Bald Eagle Watches which first began in Keokuk, Iowa, enter the key words “Bald Eagle” in the SEARCH box at the top of this page. Articles include eagle watching advisories, where, when and how to participate, and a general annual schedule of when/where events are held. Our first event:

SAUK PRAIRIE — Sauk Prairie area’s Bald Eagle Watching Days, Wisconsin’s longest-running bald eagle watching event, will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

“Our planned virtual programming will feature the release of a rehabilitated bald eagle to the wild, a live raptor show and many more of your favorite events and presentations,” said President of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council Jeb Barzen. “We’ll provide experts to answer your questions and show eagle watchers how they can safely visit the area and see the birds themselves using our new self-guided tour.”

Programming will be a mix of live streams and pre-recorded videos beginning at 1 p.m. on Jan. 16 and 23 and Feb. 6 and 20. Links and program scheduling can be found here.

If you’d still like to see the eagles in the wild, you can visit the Sauk Prairie area in Jan. and Feb. for a self-guided tour using a mobile device. More information can be found here.

Christmas Holiday in Early Green Bay, Wisconsin

A Recollection of the Christmas Holiday in Frontier Green Bay Army Colonel John Mc Neil. by Albert G. Ellis (possibly early 1820s)

The Colonel, an Eastern Yankee, learned that French people at the Bay celebrated Christmas as a high festival, so he decided to help his men and the citizenry honor the day in these “ends of the earth.”

He sent formal invitations for dinner and a ball to everyone. Food was prepared for 100 guests and on Christmas Day a big hall at the Fort was filled with French, Indians, and Americans sharing holiday greetings.

John McNeil Jr.jpg
Army Colonel John Mc Neil

Clothing ran from the latest Parisian styles to buckskin coats, pants, petticoats, and moccasins.

None of the elite considered himself over-dressed nor none of the citizens reproached himself with the least want of etiquette, or disrespect to their host, on account of costume or manner.

The dinner equaled one expected in a more civilized setting in quantity, if not in kind. Venison, bear meat, porcupine, geese, ducks, and many fish headed by the sturgeon, were offered for the main course. Dinner, dancing, and revelry latest throughout the Christmas night.

(I enjoyed discovering these two brief excerpts from the lives of Wisconsin explorers found in an anthology of essays adapted from WISCONSIN CHRISTMAS, edited by Terry R. Engels. And since porcupines are mentioned twice, I include a picture from this Winter in NW Wisconsin! Thank you, Laurie! ~ Pat)

La Fete de Noel, by Father Paul LeJeunne, 1665

“The Lord gave us for our Christmas supper a porcupine large as a suckling pig, also a rabbit. It was not much for eighteen persons, but the Holy Family were not so well treated on this very day in Bethlehem.”

More (really beautiful) Leucistic Creatures!

Merry Christmas everyone! I enjoy sharing images I run across of some of nature’s more beautiful creatures… the nearly white leucistic (leucitic) creatures that live in our forests and yards. Use the key words “white phase” of leucistic in the search box above to see more images.

The Grizzly Bear below has a story I can share. It was photographed by a family driving near Banff National Park, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway. Park staff have been monitoring the white grizzly and its sibling since 2017.

White Grizzly Bear Spotted in Banff, Alberta

The Clarkson family actually spotted two grizzly bears searching for food on the highway. One of them was ordinary while the other one was pure white. Cara claims that they are very “lucky because white grizzly bears are unheard of.” 

A local bear expert and ecologist, Sarah Elmeligi, agrees with Mike’s statement and claims that the result of the bear’s color is recessive genes.

Monitoring the White Grizzly

Banff National Park staff have been monitoring the white grizzly and its sibling since 2017. At the time, the white grizzly left its mother and the staff named it Nakoda. The meaning of its name is ‘ally’ or ‘friend’ in the language of the native people of Stoney Nakoda Nation.

Tundra Swans Gathering!

Dec 24, 2020. Merry Christmas everyone. Some may be surprised I still have Tundra Swans, pictured in the header. In fact, during the Christmas Bird Count on Dec 19, our La Crosse Audubon group reported counting 2600 Tundra Swans (big movement over the area), and a high number of duck species despite still water areas being frozen. So yes, you may still be seeing Tundra Swans passing through.

(Nov 2020) Now that our Tri-State bluffs are clad mostly in the deep browns of persistent oak foliage, and the first measurable snow has sprinkled down, we are seeing the Tundra swans winging their way into Pool 8 once again! It’s always one of my favorite birding seasons. As is normal, we not only have elegant Tundra swans resting and feeding, but large “mobs” of American white pelicans are gathering. Migrating ducks also form vast rafts…puddle ducks in more sheltered areas; diving ducks in open water upriver of the locks and dams. Check out the rest area near Brownsville, MN, and the open water south of Goose Island in Wisconsin. The highway pulloffs allow parking and offer scopes and often volunteers to help explain why the swans stop in Pool 8 and what other migrating waterfowl might be identifiable. Eagles are frequent and will become even more so in November!!

Hit the Road NOW for Fall Color 2020!

Fine Art River
Print. Hand-
painted by
Lisa Middleton.
Available from Greatriverarts.com

Woah, driving the Mississippi River for the past few days, and WOW, has the color popped! It seemed sudden and early to me, based on past years when riding the steamboats and the bluffs would pop as late as October 15! But we found color from Madison to Northern Wisconsin already.

Try this new 2020 Fall Color Prediction Map for the entire US! It says Smoky Mountains, but it is actually the whole country!   

Treasure Hunting is a perfect outdoor activity for cool and colorful days. Our beginner’s guide to Treasure Hunting along the Mississippi River is a favorite among our readers! Available now from AMAZON Books for just $2.99.

Fall Foliage Hot Lines from greatriver.com 
While mid-October seems to be the time when Fall Foliage really POPS along the Upper Mississippi River, we on the Upper River are certainly already seeing brilliant red sumacs. Softwoods are starting to yellow up. You can follow the southward march of Fall Color with the contacts below. Weather is perfect, enjoy the drive!

Arkansas.  https://www.arkansas.com/arkansas-seasons/fall (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; Fall Folliage Predition Map (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!!!  

Click HERE to Purchase Discover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota,  Discovr! Guides are available in four volumes from St. Paul to Venice, Louisiana, individually signed by the author.  Available on Amazon as paperback ($22) or KINDLE guide (9.99).  Or phone 888-255-7726 and we will send you your copy TODAY.