The La Crosse Audubon group will be again sponsor The La Crosse Area Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 15th. Birders who want to participate, can contact Dan Jackson <DanJackson@lbwhite.com>
The La Crosse Area CBC is centered on the La Crosse County Courthouse and extends north to County OT, south to the southern tip of Goose Island, west to Hokah, MN, and east past Barre Mills. (See a map at: http://www.couleeaudubon.org/CBC_LaCrosse.pdf). If anyone lives within the count circle and isn’t available to help with a section, we can also use your help by having you count birds at your own feeder.
The annual Christmas bird count reminds me of the little research I did a few years past into why so many old post cards featured a dead bird. Interesting story which I will relate shortly!!!
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.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the excellent DRIFTLESS CENTER in Lansing, Iowa, do take advantage of this opportunity. Enjoy the huge deck/porch that offers a wide view north toward the historic Lansing Bridge. There have been eagles in the vicinity each time I’ve visited.
Additionally, the displays capture our river heritage as well as any museum north of Dubuque. Live snakes, including a timber rattler, our clamming heritage, driftless geography, commercial fishing and more. Great for kids AND adults.
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 above is from the Trumpeter Swan society site. The society offers a detailed identification guide free if you CLICK HERE.
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.