|Swans dancing and prancing at Park Rapids. Photo by Marianne Diericks.|
Winter’s the best time to watch trumpeter swans
By Lisa Meyers McClintick
|Photo by Marianne Diericks|
February ranks as one of the best months for viewing trumpeter swans, one of Minnesota’s most graceful and beautiful creatures. They’ve gathered by the thousands along Mississippi River in Monticello since resident Sheila Lawrence (dubbed “the swan lady”) began feeding them.
Where to watch wintering swans
Warm water discharged from the nuclear power plant keeps a stretch of the Mississippi River open in Monticello, which has long been the Midwest’s biggest gathering spot for trumpeters. With the swans’ comeback, they’re showing up in new locations with open water during winter’s cold snaps.
|Crow Wing River. Photo by Rik Meyers.|
It’s a handy location with close to 400 lakes in the area. That makes it easy for swans to head out and find their own lake for nesting and raising their young. It’s much harder to spot them in the summer behind high reeds and lakeside shrubs, but keep an eye out on Itasca State Park’s wildlife drive. You might get lucky.
|Fish Hook River. Photos by Rik Meyers.|
It’s almost meditative, too, to stand and watch the ever-changing formations
- Best viewing times are often 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Keep an eye on the sky when traveling Interstate 94 near Monticello. You may catch swans flying overhead.
- By mid-March, swans are often on their way to nesting grounds.
- In Monticello, park visitors are expected to stay behind the fence. Trumpeter swans spook easily and are skittish because they cannot maneuver their large bodies well.
- Swans are easy to see and enjoy without any special equipment, but binoculars are still nice to have.
- For more information on swans in general, go to www.trumpeterswansociety.org.
Update April 27, 2011
Sheila Lawrence, Monticello’s beloved “Swan Lady,” died from cancer on April 2. The community is collecting funds to help feed the swans next winter in her absence. Donations may be sent to: