Sunday, November 24, 2013


The ice is starting to form on the backwaters of the Mississippi.  If the cold weather persists the Tundra Swans will pull out for the warmer coastal waters of the S.E. United States.  Saturday(Nov.23) the high was about 10 degrees and the wind chill was well below zero. They will probably pull our soon.

The blue of the mighty Mississippi and the white of 15,000 Tundra Swans was a spectacular sight on Saturday November 23, 2013.

Swans with a dredge in the backgound.  Both are heading for warmer climes.


The male Cardinals prefer sunflower seeds to all other foods.  We only have a few coming to the feeders right now but as the winter gets tougher more and more Cardinals will come to our feeders.

The Dark-eyed Junco's are the most common bird at our feeders.  We have as many as 40 at one time.  The Junco's come down from up north in late fall and will stay until early spring. They prefer to feed off the ground.

We average 5-8 Jays per day and they are the bullies of the feeders.  When the jays pull in, everyone else gives way.  That is OK because they usually do not stay long.

During the winter months we have between 6 and 10 Chickadees that load up on sunflower seeds daily.  They come and go all day long.  We suspect that they stash the seeds in the woods, as they could not possibly eat that many seeds in a day.

Monday, November 11, 2013


The Tundra Swans have left the arctic landscapes of Canada and are treating us to a show along the Mississippi River. Note how large they are compared to a Mallard duck.  Their beauty combined with the sound of thousands of them at once is quite spectacular.

The Tundra Swans tip up to feed on roots such as the root of the Arrowhead plant.  The backwaters of the Mississippi provide resting and feeding grounds from about Wabasha, MN to south of Lansing, Iowa.  The greatest concentration of swans is just south of Brownsville, MN on pool #8.

We don't really know how many swans were on pool 8 just south of Brownsville, Minnesota on Saturday Nov. 9.  We have been there many times and estimate that there were at least 6000 in that area.  We have seen a maximum of about 20,000 there on one occasion. Their numbers should increase over the next week or so.  They will pull out for the East and South when the backwaters freeze over.  Most will winter in the Chesapeake Bay area.

The swans are truly magnificent in flight.

When the sun peaked out the white of several thousand swans was visible in the distance.

Two families squabble over feeding rights.  Note that the immature young swans have darker necks. 

We often try to find little untraveled backroads along the big river.  This one is a minimum maintenance road that we often "try" to travel.  The family Buick almost got stuck last spring on this particular road. But the views provided are worth the risk.  TO SEE MORE NATURE PHOTOS GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK ON NOVEMBER 2013 OR ANY MONTH DESIRED.

The Mississippi River provides a world class view for miles.

The backwaters provide great habitat for ducks and swans to rest and feed.  The swans at this spot appeared to be just resting with little feeding behavior.

We are careful not to spook the swans as they are hunted in North Dakota and can be touchy.  Someone got too close to this group and they took off-which did provide us with a telephoto camera opportunity.

Saw about 30 Bald Eagles in a 40 mile stretch of the Mississippi river north of Lansing, Iowa.  We have seen as many a 100 eagles there in late November.

There are a few pelicans still on the river but most have left for warmer climes.

Got just under 2 inches of snow today.  Early winter???

Monday, November 4, 2013

Small greenish wasp of perhaps the  cuckoo family.  It was hibernating in one of our bluebird houses.  It is only about 0.3 inches long.

Photo taken from the other side of the wasp shows off its coloration.