Pelican Watch!

Checked out the river yesterday for American White Pelicans. Some success! As I saw a small group doing their “string of pearls” south of Goose Island along Wis 35. Also a report from southern Wis so they should be here in large numbers soon!

Sandhill Cranes Across the State!

I have been checking the Wisconsin Bird Network frequently and seeing reports of Sandhill Cranes (and Trumpeter Swans) across the State since early February… in fact even in January! They may even have over-wintered in some few locations to south, as I heard a bit about last year!

Pool 8 of the Mississippi River
Beautiful POOL 8 Map Design by Lisa Middleton!
Click here to view map DETAILS.

“Your work is beautiful.  We ordered Pool 8.  It will look perfect above our mantel. As a plus – our home is near the center of the image. Could not have commissioned a better map!”
~Mark D., Pool 8

What I keep track of here however, is when we first see/hear Sandhill Cranes in our Pool 8 valley… and yesterday, March 8, was the first “hearing” of the year for us. It was very distant, however, and we haven’t “seen” them yet.

All other spring birds are being reported, and where there is still ice on the river, bald eagles are clustering. Nest sites are busy! No word of pelicans yet, but they follow very closely on the breakup of the ice! Happy Early Spring Birding!

Swans Arrive in Sauk County!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It’s fun to know that others are celebrating our annual “Heralds of Spring” in the same way we do along the Upper Mississippi! This was posted to the WisBirdNetwork… A good two weeks ago I was hearing local reports that there were numbers of swans in open waters on the Mississippi as well. Some may have been TRUMPETERS as Wisconsin had many Trumpeter Swans overwinter. See post below about Trumpeters and lead pellets in the Twin Cities. Now back to our little swan celebration!!!

“At approximately 4:20 pm, two Swans landed at Bakkens Pond. My thought was 
that perhaps those two wintered in Wisconsin. Within 15 minutes, a 
wedge of 11 Swans was observed. Near sunset, there was another wedge with 
about 20 swans, but the angle of the sun prevented an exact count.Enjoy the coming of Spring!”
~~Sharon
Richland Center–Richland County–

Door County’s Surprising Icelandic Connection

Hand painted map of Iceland. Click image to order!

Washington Island’s Icelandic Heritage

I was truly surprised on a recent visit to Washington Island off the Door County Penninsula to learn that here was one of the largest concentrations of Icelandic heritage outside of Iceland! No wonder we sell so many of our Iceland 1906 maps! (Shown above, handpainted by Lisa Middleton.) Across Death’s Door, a different culture lives on in the community of Washington Island. 

I always love a good map story, and here is one that ties into our Icelandic heritage.. this is a letter to Iceland that literally had a map for the address. And by golly it found it’s way to the right person!

While Irish and German immigrants were the first to settle Washington Island in 1870 a group of four Icelandic men settled on the island, seeking to take advantage of the fishing and farming opportunities on the island. 

Chester Thordarson, an inventor and economist, brought new wealth to the community in the 1930s, and today that proud heritage lives on. Icelandic influence is still felt in the architecture, museums, names, and thick skin of the Islanders who call it home. Rock Island was a family retreat of the Thordarsons and is now Wisconsin’s Rock Island State Park. The only public transportation to the island is by the passenger ferry Karfi from Washington Island. Primitive camping is possible.

 If Wisconsin’s Door County is a favorite for your family, we think you’ll love Lisa Middleton’s historic 1878 Door County Map featuring the penninsula’s historic lighthouses. Click image too see more detail, or to purchase!

037 Door County with Lighthouse Inset 1878

Rain and More Rain!

Much of the central part of the country, along with the Lower Mississippi, is currently experiencing dangerous high water. See up to the minute status reports for American rivers by clicking on our INTERACTIVE FLOOD MAP. Black triangles indicate serious flooding.

Related categories are highlighted above this story. Click on a category above to see more stories from our massive archive!

This map is interactive and constantly updated by the USGS.

us

Looking for more great content, lots of river content available by clicking on any of the category links shown below the comments!

Trumpeter Swans die on Twin Cities Lake

I’m constantly amazed at the swan stories I’ve seen reported this winter as Trumpeter Swan populations increase on the upper Mississippi River. This particular story is a sad one. If you find a dead Swan, please make a phone call to your local DNR.

More than a dozen swans have died at Twin Cities lake

Lead poisoning is the suspected cause of death. FEB 4, 20

Screen Shot 2020-02-04 at 2.23.55 PM

Vadnais Lake Area Water Management Organization

Trumpeter swans continue to die of suspected lead poisoning at a lake in the Twin Cities metro area. 

Last year, 11 of the majestic swans were found dead at Vadnais Lake in Vadnais Heights. This winter, two additional trumpeter swans have been located deceased at the lake, including one on the lake’s north end/east side, and another at Sucker Channel. 

Sucker Channel is where the 11 birds were found dead last year. Four of those 11 were tested, with results positive for lead poisoning. The trumpeter swan found at Sucker Channel this week has been sent to the University of Minnesota Diagnostic Lab for necropsy and testing.

Vadnais Lake Area Water Management I Organization has a theory about how the swans are being poisoned

“Swans use their long necks to reach the bottom and pick up stones to grind food in their gizzard. Lead sinkers are just the right size for the job, so swans pick them up preferentially. Sinkers get ground up in their gizzard and incorporated into body tissue. These carcasses pose a risk to scavengers and pets that might feed on them.”

The group is urging the public to keep an eye out for more dead swans and for anglers to avoid using lead fishing tackle, instead opting for tin, tungsten, steel, glass and other non-lead alternatives. 

The dead swan on the north end of the lake cannot be safely retrieved, so it will stay there for the time being. Anyone who finds a dead swan is asked to report it by calling 651-204-6070

2019 Birding Updates, Many and Sundry!

TUNDRA SWANS are still in Wisconsin! Several reports from the Wisc. Birding Network indicate there are some 500 tundra swans on the ice and
Water at Madison’s University Bay. One of my favorite scenes is of Swans sliding on ice as they land. By contrast, I had my first report of Tundra Swans arriving at Chesapeake Bay on Nov. 19, 2019.

Sandhill Cranes are also extending their stay in various pockets in Wisconsin!  As of Dec 16  sandhill cranes were reported hanging out in the harvested corn fields near the intersection of Hwy 60 and Rainbow Road just NE of Spring Green, WI in Sauk County.Thank you Donald Maum.

Fred Lesher’s journals are available online at UW La Crosse Murphy Library digital Collection.  Paul and Bernadette Hayes and others have been working
to enter Fred’s extensive historical observations onto ebird.
For example, Fred found a Bewick’s Wren in the La Crosse area in April 1969
(see https://ebird.org/checklist/S34769360)
Scans of the original journals can be found at
https://digitalcollections.uwlax.edu/jsp/RcWebBrowse.jsp;jsessionid=DF2C5CF4
F102FD46DECBADEB4336CF54

Barbara Duerksen
Richland County, WI

SNOWY OWL UPDATE: I post new updates every 10-15 days during November and  I post new updates every 10-15 days during November and December. The latest is up on  2019-20 Update tab at: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/SnowyOwls.html
Ryan Brady Conservation Biologist, Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
Dan Jackson, La Crosse Audubon Group

The La Crosse / La Crescent Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Saturday, December 16th    For those who haven’t participated in the past, for the La Crosse CBC, we count all of the birds that we can find on the count day within a 15 mile circle that is centered on the La Crosse County Courthouse.  I divide the circle in 25-30 sections and individuals or teams are then responsible for covering a pre-assigned section on the count day (this year 12/16/17). Yes, we can use help each year to cover all the sections! Please contact Dan if you would like to be on the list for next year.

The Next BACKYARD BIRD COUNT is underway February 14-17, 2020
Here is a great opportunity to participate as a “Citizen Scientist!”  If you have never participated before, and are interested, see the GBBC website to get started and create an account, which you will need to enter data.
http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
Count birds anytime, anywhere, with eBird »

A Christmas Story for Birders….

The Christmas Bird Count has a rather fascinating tie to the Victorian Era and a tradition of the day in which Christmas was sometimes celebrated with a theme of dead birds. What the Heck?? I had many images of birds, both dead and alive in an old postcard collection. Here is what I discovered.

image

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.”

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!

christmasrobin

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

Annual One-For-You and One-For-Them Sale!

‘Tis the season for Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING! And our annual one-for-you-and-one-for-them sale! 

Doesn’t sepia make you think of Pumpkin Spice? ‘Tis the season for Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING!

This is one pumpkin spice that will not add any unwanted pounds and will last for years on your wall.

All of November and December we offer one of our most beautiful maps as a gift with every shipment….Our Sandwich Islands Map! It’s a print of a classical 1879 Augustus Mitchell map restored and painted by Lisa Middleton. It features early Hawaii, Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal. You will receive this gift in addition to all of our holiday discounts!

This gift is free with all 16×20″ or larger map orders. Maps smaller than 16×20″ will receive this map as a magnet as a bonus gift! All bonus maps will be mailed to the address on the order. If you mail it to yourself keep it or give a “Christmas Bonus” to someone you love. No discount code required. It comes with every order:) Or, you may also order it directly and receive 2 for 1 right now! Order your own copy here

Clinton, IA. Eagle watch Jan 4, 2020

If you have been on Pool 8 watching the Swan migration, you will have noticed that the American Bald Eagles are abundant wherever water is open. Eagle Watches have been a traditional Winter celebration along the length of the Mississippi River. The first of our announced dates is for CLINTON, IA.  The Eagle Watch will be Jan 4, 2020 at Lock and Dam 13.

Booths, etc. will be at Clinton Community College, Iowa.  Bus will run between the two to save parking, etc.  Scouts will have food there to sell.  We will have
coffee, etc. at the Corp. building to warm you up.  David Stokes from WI
will be the guest speaker.  If you would like the flyer, please e-mail astraight4@frontier.com

Eagles on ICE by Richard Middleton

Eagles on ICE by Richard Middleton