Tundra Swans are beginning to appear in larger numbers on Pool 8. Check at the waysides south of Goose Island on Hwy 35, and south of Brownsville, MN, on Hwy 61 S. To see historical data on our fabulous Tundra Swans, use the SEARCH Button at the top of the page!! Look for a sunny day and take a drive along the Upper Mississippi River. Numbers should increase throughout the rest of November as the Swans move south and then make a Eastern turn toward the East Coast.
FERRYVILLE — The Ferryville Tourism Council will host its annual Fall Migration Day from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, in River View Park on Highway 35.
Additional birding events will be held beginning at 8 a.m. at the Driftless Center in Lansing, Iowa, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the birding observation area at Brownsville, Minn., Hwy. 26, all on Nov. 10.
Brief Report: Pelicans are still in Pool 8 on the Upper River. Suspect a few Tundra Swans have been filtering in, but temps are still warm enough to keep them up north. I look for the first sheets of ice as the harbinger of the main Tundra Swan migration!
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The DRIFTLESS Region map (above) captures portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois anchored by the Mississippi River.
Its corollary is the ICE AGE TRAIL that follows the moraines of the last Ice Age from Door Count, Wisconsin, to the St. Croix River and Minnesota border.
Perfect for Dad, a brother or other MAP buff in your family! Or keep one for yourself! Each map includes extensive historical and geologic notes.
Had the pleasure of greeting several big mobs of Pelicans the day before another winter storm moves across the Mississippi River. In one swoop of the binocs, between Goose Island and the Stoddard Dike, I saw Pelicans in rich white circular clusters, our 8 Trumpeter Swans feeding in last year’s rice beds, and a large loose flock of migrating Tundra Swans in a sheltered open pond.. Also Lesser Scaup, a puddle duck easily recognized by its grey-white back coloring. My guess is that the Tundra swans recognized the front of incoming snow and stopped to rest. Didn’t see them today as the river was engulfed in a whiteout of snow and fog. A good day to stay off the road!
For more on the recent history of pelicans on the river, CLICK HERE for our archive, or use the SEARCH box above.
In March 2017, I watched a lone pair of beautiful Trumpeter Swans working the open water just above the Stoddard Dike. Today there were 4 pair!
The Trumpeter Swan is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.
Image below is of a Tundra Swan, which is just slightly smaller and has a more curved bill and a light spot near the eye. Tundra Swans pass through in the Spring migration to the North, but will be seen in large groups. The Trumpeter, which was first established in Iowa in the last decade (I believe) now nests on the Upper River. Still very unusual to see.
Tundra Swan Image for comparison.
Because the Mississippi River is so reluctant to give up the ice this year, we probably have just this weekend where much of the river will still have ice. It opens up quite a bit during the day, and freezes over again at night. That means resident waterfowl and migratory birds are overlapping with gusto!
Easy to see 7 or 8 eagles at a glance around any open water. As of March 1, we were getting reports of Sandhill cranes widespread along the river. I always consider March 1 and early date, but might have to start thinking of it as normal! Amazingly, at least one group of March 1 arrivals had 23 sandhills flying overhead! Thank you, Marilyn and Laura for the early reports!
Oh, and Tundra Swans are also heading north again. Haven’t heard of pelicans yet, but expect them soon.
I just heard from the La Crosse Audubon group that there are four trumpeter swans in Perrot S.P, and 16 in the Whitewater Wildlife management area. ( Open water on the north side of 74, before you hit the pavement coming from Weaver.) Waterfowl are certainly creatures of habit, but, they aren’t pinned down! So keep your eyes open!
Thank you for the heads up, Pat Schmidt!
Images below and in header are found at the Trumpeter Swan society site.
The Trumpeter is a huge bird, with a wingspread up to 10 feet! But notice the very black bill which makes an almost perfect triangle and stretches right to the eye.
The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.
Since the early 1990s, the Iowa DNR, has recorded the population of wintering American Bald Eagles during the Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey that takes place in the first two weeks of every year. The number of Eagles found during the survey has climbed steadily so that in 2007 that the Bald Eagle was doing well enough to be removed from the Endangered Species List.
Eagle numbers in the count are expected vary from year to year. A total of 1,939 Bald Eagles were counted during the 2016 Bald Eagle Midwinter Count in Iowa, which was below the previous 10-year survey average of 3,064.3.
An eagle’s nesting territory is considered to be a 1 mile radius which is defended by a pair of Bald Eagles for breeding purposes. A pair of eagles, we’ve learned, may use or maintain more than l nest within its territory.
Since 1977, approximately 863 bald eagle territories have been reported to the Iowa DNR. In 2015, the state hit the milestone of having at least one Eagle’s nest reported in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Along the Mississippi River, Allamakee County, with 144, has the highest number of nests reported, followed by Clayton County with 71.
Within the active nesting territories, 77 of them are located on the Iowa portion of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge and 335 of them are spread throughout the rest of the state, particularly along the Des Moines River.
It’s that time of year when our huge winter population of American Bald Eagles begins to Cluster around the open water below the dams on the Upper Mississippi River. The Iowa DNR is releasing a series of posts on their Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey which may interest many of you!
Jan 5, 2018: The Iowa Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey
Iowa is one of the most important wintering grounds for Bald Eagles with thousands of the huge raptors moving into the state from the north to join our resident breeding birds. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan all have some of the highest densities of nesting Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states and many of those eagles, especially from MN and WI move into Iowa during the winter months and frequently gather in large numbers around areas of open water to feed and roost.
Since the early 1990s, the Iowa DNR, plus a small army of volunteers has recorded this phenomenon during the Bald Eagle Midwinter Survey that takes place in the first two weeks of every year. Surveyors scope the trees, air and ice for Iowa’s largest raptor while driving snowy roads which wind along next to many of Iowa’s biggest rivers. There are 52 set routes in Iowa that cover over 1500 miles in 45 counties and along at least 13 rivers. The Des Moines and Mississippi river host the largest number of Eagles, which can usually be found concentrated below a dam or other area of open water. While Bald Eagles are very territorial during the nesting season, they are much less so in the winter though you may witness a squabble or two over a coveted fish at these congregation spots.
Bald Eagle Trends: In Iowa, the survey has revealed a steady increase in Eagle numbers since the survey began. There are big fluctuations from year to year based on weather, ice coverage, and food resource availability among other things but overall the trend has been upward. That rise in numbers has started to plateau in recent years as Eagle populations stabilize throughout the Midwest region. Bald Eagle Trends:
Another important statistic we track is the percent of Immatures versus Adults in the count. A good and steady number of immatures is a sure sign of a healthy population. About one-third of the birds counted on the survey are immatures and this trend has stayed steady for many years. (More Survey Results to be posted soon)