Tundra Swans, migrants from northern Canada headed to Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic coast, are coming our way. Birders in South Dakota are reporting scattered migrants. Some of the large white birds will fly over in long V formations. (Listen for their faint whoooing calls from flocks high overhead. This is a magical fall sound.) Other migrants will rest and feed in lakes throughout central Minnesota. Soon, thousands of swans will be resting and feeding on the Mississippi River south of Mankato.
A popular and sure-fire place to find the birds near the Twin Cities is at the Weaver Bottoms, shallow, quiet Mississippi River backwater about 120 miles from Minneapolis. Drive Highway 61 south of Winona, and you cannot miss. The birds also can be seen from the Wisconsin side of the river.
Here is information the Minnesota DNR posts for viewers:
“The best time to view the tundra swans is from mid-October through mid-November, Two viewing areas are at the Watchable Wildlife Observation Platform at Rieck's Lake Park near Alma, Wisconsin, and along Highway 61 near Weaver Minnesota. For further information about the swans at Rieck's Lake Park visit the Wings Over Alma website.
“Directions to Riecks Lake Park, Alma Wisconsin: Alma, Wis., is 85 miles south of St. Paul. Take highway U.S. 61 to either Red Wing or Wabasha and cross the Mississippi River. Follow Wisconsin Highway 35 south to Nelson. From Nelson, continue south on 35 for about 6 miles. Rieck's Lake Park will be on the east side of the highway, just before crossing a bridge.
“Directions to Weaver Bottoms, just south of Weaver, Minnesota: The Weaver Bottoms marshes lie approximately 120 miles south of the Twin Cities on Hwy. 61.
“For a good view of the Weaver Bottoms area, drive southeast on Highway 61, 1-3/4 miles past the Highway 74 junction. Take the spur road a short distance to the top of the hill."