This is just to let your know that while White Pelicans still abound, they are clustered up in tight pods wherever they can get out of the wind. Check your favorite Eagle nests…those I like to watch all still have adults in them, but I did have a report that during one of our sleet storms a nest was abandoned. No Tundra Swans, of course, but there are Trumpeters! Walked through Goose Island and many of our spring waterfowl are still here. Eagles are abundant, indeed. Sandhill Cranes on their nests. Beaver, muskrat, even herons are out and about. Find them sheltering from the wind and looking for some of the warmer weather forecast for next week.
Ice has begun to clear from the Mississippi River, and like clock-work, our puddle ducks, diving ducks, White Pelicans, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans have begun the great move northward. About the 5th of March, we were already hearing the Cranes and the Tunda Swans. This week, the great white Trumpeter Swans have begun passing our porch windows into the small ponds and creek of the valley. For the past four days, large pods of White Pelicans are clustering all along the river from Stoddard to Goose Island. Sandhill Cranes are now establishing their territories and making a rukus!
Except for a sloppy snow day today, river birding has been great. As the weather clears up visit the many roadside rest areas along Highway 35 in Wisconsin. Bald Eagles are abundant–a couple dozen at a sweep of the eye, clustered along the floating ice sheets and beside the big black nests. Happy Spring!!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Sunday, March 18, and the pelicans are making their way North!
A huge number in the quiet bay right along Hwy 35, just north of Stoddard, WI.
With 70 degree days predicted for early next week, we will be seeing more and more of our returning songbirds and waterfowl. Sandhill Cranes, robins, red-winged black-birds, starlings, bluebirds and such are already singing, in addition to Cardinals, titmice and other year-round residents. Sandhills are still very quiet, so they don’t seem to be claiming their nesting territories yet. Send us your comments!! Click here to see our birding archive on the Ramblin’ On blog.
With so little snow this winter, spring flooding is unlikely this season. To see an interactive flood map, as well as past flooding accounts, click here.
[adsenseyu2]We had a beautiful barred owl in our backyard early one morning last week. Hawks are paired up and bald eagles are nesting. I’ll be watching for the return of white pelicans next… they follow the opening of the Mississippi River… perhaps looking for fish kill as the ice breaks up.
We have featured WHITE PELICANS, EAGLES and other large waterfowl for many years on www.greatriver.com
Please visit our dedicated Birding Index here at Greatriver.com It includes a long history of arrival dates for the sandhill cranes in the Upper Mississippi River valley.
This year has turned out to be one of the biggest Snowy Owl eruptions in many years. This has allowed many of us to see these magnificent birds that normally inhabit the tundra and it has been a great experience.
This event has resulted in a significant number of birds that have been found that are sick and injured. When they are found, these birds are taken to wildlife rehabilitators including the Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center in rural Chaseburg. These organizations always have trouble finding enough funding to help cover their costs and this event is adding even more financial burdens to organizations that often operate on a shoe string budget and are heavily dependent on donations in order to operate.
Already this year, Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center has had two Snowy Owls brought in to their center. The first was in the last stages of starvation and couldn’t be saved but the second is the victim of what is probably a power line accident and is in fairly good condition. It has an electrical burn on a wing that has required surgeries and it is under weight. However, there is a good chance that it can be saved.
Sue and Merv Broten, the operators of the facility, are working to improve its body mass and fight against aspergillosis. Snowy Owls are very susceptible to this fungal infection when they migrate this far south and one of the keys to prevention is to keep an owl from the stress of under nourishment. Starving Snowies can eat a LOT of mice a day, and at a cost of $1.00 to $1.50 per mouse, building their weight up is an expensive proposition.
In honor of this year’s eruption, the Coulee Region Audubon Society has decided to sponsor a special “Snowy Christmas” campaign to raise funds to help pay for the cost of rehabilitating these owls and to underwrite some of the operations of the Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center. We will match all donations made by our members and friends through the end of January up to a total of $200. We hope that you will consider making a tax deductible contribution to this campaign and therefore support the great work done by the Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center.
If you can help, please send a check to Coulee Region Audubon with a note indicating that it is to be used for this campaign or send a check directly to the Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center at the following address:
Coulee Wildlife Rehab Center, Inc.
E4485 Dodson Hollow Rd
Chaseburg, WI 54621
I hope that you will join me in supporting this cause!!
Dan Jackson, President
Coulee Region Audubon Society
La Crosse, Wisconsin
As we drove Minnesota’s Great River Road from Red Wing to La Crescent this weekend… “indicator species” at various waysides highlighted the arrival of Tundra Swans!
Such clusters of humans with binoculars and cameras announce the “swan song” of 2011. Best viewing of Tundra Swans seemed to be right along HWY 61 just north of Minnieska, Minnesota (Weaver Bottoms) and again just south of Goose Island in Wisconsin. No doubt the Swans are also clustered just outside of Brownsville, Minnesota, and perhaps just north of Alma, Wisconsin at Reich’s Lake.
A word of warning though… I saw two men standing on the railroad tracks engrossed in watching an American Bald Eagle soaring up above.
There is a very real possibility that when engrossed in viewing wildlife, one would never hear the train coming until it is simply too late. Stand well off the railroad tracks!!
The seed islands north of Stoddard have been crowded this week with pelicans gathering for the trip south. With November just around the corner, and our first frosts already in the air, it’s time to start watching for Tundra Swans! I heard from Al Stankevitz that he has seen a very few towards the center of the pool at Brownsville, Mn. So be on the lookout for the long white necks of the Tundra Swans. In a few more weeks we should have many thousands!!
Just a reminder, too, that we have an extensive BIRDING section in the Mississippi River Home Page!
Please use the REPLY link to update our fellow birders on your observerations! This will be a spam-free way to keep one another posted on birding along the Mississippi River!!