The gathering

In just a two day stretch, the lakes around me went from just icy crusts along the edge to a glazed layer of solid ice across the entire surface.  Trumpeter swans had been mixed in with some of the floating rafts of ducks when the water was still open.

Both Trumpeter and Tundra Swans migrate through Minnesota in search of open water in the fall and early winter.  Their loud trumpeting calls and large body size (and longer neck) distinguish the Trumpeter Swans from their look-alike cousins.

Both Trumpeter and Tundra Swans migrate through Minnesota in search of open water in the fall and early winter. Their loud trumpeting calls and large body size (and longer neck) distinguish the Trumpeter Swans from their smaller, look-alike cousins.

The Mergansers and Goldeneyes have since departed, but some of the Trumpeter Swans will stay, provided they find the nearby open channel of water between the two lakes of the Vadnais reservoir.

Last winter (January), I found over 50 Trumpeter Swans foraging in this small channel between the two lakes.  They scrape the bottom of the creek completely clean of fallen leaves.

Last winter (January), I found over 50 Trumpeter Swans foraging in this small channel between the two lakes. They scrape the bottom of the creek completely clean of fallen leaves.

These swans became quite a local attraction, feeding on bread from outstretched hands and poking their heads readily into boxes of cornflakes.  I’m not sure this kind of attention is a good thing though, since it is a very unpredictable and non-nutritious food source.

However, feeding swans in the winter has become somewhat of a landmark for Monticello, MN, where “Swan Lady” Sheila Lawrence fed corn daily for 20 years to hundreds and then thousands of swans that overwintered on an open stretch of the Mississippi River.  You can read more about her here.

Naturalist photographer Sparky Stensaas shot a beautiful video of his frigid morning with the Swans of Monticello. You can view his beautiful images and the video of his sunrise encounter with thousands of swan on his webpost here.

8 thoughts on “The gathering

    • Yes, indeed — it must be that long neck that conveys the elegance. I wonder if that’s why some African women wear all those necklace neck extenders to achieve the graceful swan neck?

  1. I love swans. They are so elegant and beautiful. We have a few white and black swans that are released every year in the Rideau Canal. They are kept indoors and looked after during the winter. Nothing like this…50 swans…wow!

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