The overlook, which sits on the edge of the Mississippi River near the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa border, was opened back in 2007 and offers visitors an excellent view of migrating waterfowl. This part of the river has also been under construction. Several groups, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota DNR and others, have been working at reestablishing many of the small islands that have been eroded away by the river.
These islands are important to the health of the river and the flora and fauna that depend on it. The islands help protect the aquatic vegetation from the strong river currents. This vegetation is an important food source to many different waterfowl. The vegetation also provides habitat for fish and invertebrates which are a food source for diving waterfowl. So the Army Corps of Engineers has dredged sediment from the main river channel and used it to build these man made islands.
The main reason why many people visit the overlook is the large number of tundra swans that use the river as a staging area for their fall migration. Each year most of the eastern population of tundra swans, currently they estimate 12 to 15 thousand swans in the Brownsville area with another 5000 or more yet to arrive, leave their nesting grounds up in the arctic circle and head south, stopping here to fuel up for the long trip.
They stop here for the tubers, enlarged roots that store food for the plants so that they can survive the winter and grow again the next year, which each swans eats approximately 6 pounds of each day for several weeks. They will stay in the area eating until the river freezes up and then they will continue their migration to the east coast, where they spend the winter.