Last week I saw just a couple of blackbirds in a marsh; yesterday I saw several hundred descend into a farmyard along a country road east of St. Paul. The male Red-winged Blackbirds are back in MN in great numbers now.
Since the lakes are still frozen, migrating waterfowl settle down on flooded farmers fields to rest and feed during a migratory stop-over. They typically choose a natural depression where snow melt runs off to form a large wading pool. Unfortunately, these are usually quite far from the road, making species ID difficult with just binoculars. I might have to invest in a spotting scope in the future.
I think these were Tundra Swans because I could just make out a yellow spot below their eye (which Trumpeter Swans don’t have). These birds migrate from the Atlantic coast of North America diagonally up the Mississippi flyway across the upper Midwest to northern Arctic areas and breed in the shallow pools and lakes of remote areas there. They are smaller than the Trumpeters and much, much shyer, staying as far from disruptive photographers as possible. Like other swan species, they are monogamous and mate for life.Canvasback ducks also migrate up the Mississippi flyway from their southern U.S. wintering grounds to their Canadian and Alaskan breeding grounds. They are the largest diving ducks, but unlike the mergansers, they dive for submerged vegetation instead of fish. Their chestnut heads and wedge-shaped bills make them easy to spot among a group of ducks.