Between thunderstorms, Winter Snow Warnings, and now Sunshine! I’ve been wondering what the response of our (mostly) migratory waterfowl would be over the course of the last day or two. Viewing has been great from Goose Island south to the Bay immediately north of Stoddard, along Hwy 35. Big white swans on their own in pairs are most likely Trumpeter Swans, while the migratory Tundra Swans will be visible in large numbers. If you see a thick cluster of large white birds, check closely for the large bill, heavy body and short neck of the pelicans.
All the waterfowl have been passing through for 2-3 weeks, as well as the mass of migratory ducks. Bring your bird guide to ferret out the many species of Dabbling (shallow water) ducks and Diving ducks (bigger, deeper areas) you are bound to see. Bald Eagles are abundant and Sandhill Cranes are pretty much settled into their nesting territories now and are busy calling to one another.It’s a wonderful time of new life on the river!
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!!
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!
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.
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!!
March 23, 08 and the American White Pelicans are back in Pool 8. Read our feature story on the return of the AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS to the Upper Mississippi River.
Also got a count for the March 08 eagle count from Wabasha. Note that Golden Eagles are included in the count! I, too, have seen Goldens, but they have been so few and far between we haven’t even mentioned them. I guess the word is now out! The bulletin board at www.greatriver.com/pbb/ shows a huge increase in eagle counts for Iowa.Eagles have been especially abundant on Pool 8 for the past two weeks as “winter” eagles wait for the waters further north to open and “summer” eagles start arriving for nesting. I counted 9 adults in two trees near open water on March 23.
Eagle Sightings Winter 2007-2008
The NEC’s 2008 Annual Golden Eagle Survey Count was on Jan. 19, 2008. The 2007 count was 41 golden eagles for the day and 51 for the week, up from 2006’s 23 for the day and 29 for the week.
2008 results are being tallied now!
Eagles Counted On or around March 14:
- Red Wing (Colville Park) 15
- Reads Landing 63
- Wabasha 24
- Alma 15
- Buffalo City 16
- Lock and Dam 5A 5
Some eagles are flying, however most are roosting.