We have been in the grip of a prolonged vortex of cold air from our northern neighbors since February 4 with daytime highs in the negative digits (F) and nighttime lows dipping well below -10 F (e.g. last night was -21 F). Just for something to inspire me mentally (?), I added up the last 10 nights of low temperatures and came up with a grand total sum of -95 degrees. Now that’s arctic! Needless to say it’s difficult for my fingers to work camera buttons at these temperatures, let alone get outdoors for a walk in the backyard.
But, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and to commemorate a time when I was braver about venturing out in -15F weather, here are a few photos of the Trumpeter Swans on the Mississippi River at Monticello, MN, engaging in courtship displays to cement their pair bond — love is in the air for these swans, most of which mate for life.
Thinking of warmer days ahead, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, 2021.
I have been wanting to visit the Trumpeter swans that overwinter on the Mississippi River at Monticello, MN for some time, and since the weather doesn’t seem like it will ever warm up, a friend and I braved the -12F temperature (-30 F with wind) chill to take some photos.
The view right along the Mississippi River at sunrise. Most of the river is frozen, but the swans keeps a narrow channel open near shore.
A few minutes later, the golden light turned the river ice/snow pink. Most of the swans were still sleeping on the ice, along with a few Canada Geese.
Still sleeping, even though the volume of trumpeting is so loud we have to shout to be heard.
Trumpeter swans congregate here largely because they are being fed corn once a day by a kindly gentleman. This tradition was started more than 20 years ago by one swan-loving woman, and has grown to such an enterprise that the 1200 pounds of corn doled out per week supports several thousand birds. You can read more about her efforts here.
The intrepid photographer/blogger at work, beneath 5 layers of clothes just barely keeping her warm. There were several retreats to a warm coffee shop during the 5 hours we spent here.
Those are suggested names for a group of swans — certainly more classy than just “flock”. However, there should be a special designation for the hundreds (thousands?) of swans that congregate along the Mississippi River in Monticello, Minnesota, where heated water from the nuclear power plant keeps a large stretch of the Mississippi River open each winter.
Recently, photographer-naturalist Paul Sundberg photographed the “lamentation” (I’ve decided I like that appellation best) of Trumpeter Swans there and I encourage you to visit his Jan 20 “photo of the week” because the image below doesn’t do justice to his photos.
Photo by Paul Sundberg
To really be impressed with the density of swans that congregate in this area, check out the video below. One woman began feeding ducks and geese in her backyard in 1986, and it has escalated to feeding almost a ton of corn per day to a couple thousand swans along with the other waterfowl. Click here to read a recent article about this endeavor.
UPDATE January 22 — I just found this wonderful post by Sparky, well worth a visit to his site, to see his video and photos of the Monticello (nuclear) Swans.