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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.

Tundra Swans are BACK!

We’ve been enjoying watching large flights of Tundra swans pass over the valley, and sure enough, there are large groups clustered on the slough along Hwy 35 just south of Goose Island and La Crosse! Glistening white with black edging their wings. Generally many are in the air above the flock, in a constant repositioning. Hardwoods are still colorful… oaks, maples, hickory, so come out and enjoy the weekend along the river!!

For more on Tundra swans as well as TRUMPETERS, please use the SEARCH button near the top right of the page.

Nationwide Fall Leaf Map

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!

Try this new 2021 Interactive Fall Color Prediction Map for the entire US! It says Smoky Mountains, but it is actually the whole country in great detail!

Fall Foliage Prediction Map for Wisconsin

More 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.

Click HERE to Purchase Discover! America’s Great River Road… St. Paul, Minnesota,  Discover! Guides are available in four volumes from St. Paul to Venice, Louisiana

Also available on Amazon as paperback ($22) or KINDLE guide (9.99).  Or phone 888-255-7726 and we will send you your copy TODAY.

BIRD CAST from Cornell Ornithology

MIGRATION TOOLS

ACTIVEForecasting ends Nov 15, 2021

How fun is this! Cornell offers a migration forecasting tool for the annual bird migrations. The 2021 Fall Migration is ongoing and these interactive maps offer an image of data collected from radar that also forecasts the weather. Each map below is current and provides a slightly different piece of data for the next three days (and nights). You can find the maps on the CORNELL SITE Here!

It appears the peak evening thus far was Sept 8, 2021, with 1/2 a billion birds in flight. Just look at how intense the migration was over the Mississippi River!!!!

FORECAST AND ANALYSISA picture is worth 500 million birdsBy Andrew Farnsworth The Cornell Lab Sep 08, 2021

The BirdCast forecast model predicts just over half a billion birds to be flying during peak flight hours tonight! Turn out your lights! Go birding! 

Bird migration forecast maps

 Learn more

Forecast map: Day 1
Forecast map: Day 2
Forecast map: Day 3

Local bird migration alerts Click and enter a city name to get local alerts!

Forecast map: Day 3

Local bird migration alerts

Search with our local migration alert tool to determine whether birds are passing overhead near your city tonight!  Learn more

Live bird migration maps

See real-time analysis maps of intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration, as detected by the US weather surveillance radar network between local sunset to sunrise. Cornell Lab of Ornithology currently produces these maps. Play live bird migration maps

Perfect for Holiday Gift Giving!

Order EARLY for Christmas! The USPS is going into holiday rush mode on October 1, 2021. Delivery will be slower, not faster!

For every Dad or Mom or Brother or Sister 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.”