"Every year is different. Before, I could be pretty sure I'd have 2,000 swans. Now those numbers can be lower depending on the winter. When we got a cold stretch, I had about 1,000 birds, maybe. For the last four days, I've had zero birds. It has to do with having less snow and the fact that our winter has been mild. That allows them the freedom to go eat vegetation. If left to themselves, they love to graze. They know where all the cornfields are, they know where all the potato fields are, so when they're deciding where they go, guess where?"

Jim Lawrence, on the swans that (usually) winter on the Mississippi River in Monticello, Minn. More information, contact the Monticello Chamber of Commerce, www.monticellocci.com/pages/swans or 763-295-2700.