Monday, January 10, 2011

Swan Park

It was a nice day on Sunday, sunny with temps in the single digits and the wind chill below zero constitutes a nice day here in Minnesota in January, so I decided to take a road trip up to Swan Park in Monticello, MN. Monticello is about an hour and a half drive from my house, northwest of the Twin Cities off of Interstate 94 on the way to St Cloud.
Swan Park is a small park that is located in a suburban neighborhood that is located on the Mississippi River. The park received its name because of the 1200 to 1500 trumpeter swans that winter here each year.
With our cold winter temperatures much of the Mississippi River, along with most other rivers and lakes, ices over. In Monticello however, the nuclear power plant up stream help keep the river from freezing providing the swans, as well as ducks, geese and eagles, habitat where they can spend the winter.
During the winter you can find trumpeter swans at other locations where there is open water, such as Black Dog Lake and Prescott, WI, but usually there are less then a dozen in these locations. The reason why so many spend the winter in Monticello is because of the Swan Lady of Monticello.
Sheila, the Swan Lady, was feeding ducks and geese from her back yard, located next to the park, back in the 1980's. In 1986 a few trumpeter swans began to show up and join in the feeding. Each following year more and more swans came until today over 1200 swans winter in the area each year.
Feeding that many swans is a major undertaking. To help with some of the work the Swan Lady has a custom designed conveyor system that transports approximately 1500 pounds of corn each day from a gravity wagon in the driveway down to the hungry swans on the river bank.
The Neighbor on the other side of the park has a deck, with an unobstructed view, located on the river bank. They rent this deck for $20 per person, per hour and donate the proceeds to the Swan Lady to help off set some of the costs feeding the swans. She reportable has spent $2500 over the past three years and has received no financial help from the federal, state or local government. I did not use the deck but I did leave $20 in the donation bin to cover the time that I was there shooting.
The Swan Lady sure deserves all of the praise and recognition that we can give her but I am sure that watching the swans each winter is the best reward.


Sylvia K said...

What a wonderful thing she has done! And how wonderful to be able to watch such gorgeous birds -- for real!! Although your photos are the next best thing as they are always superb and capture so much of the birds movements as well as their beauty. Thank you for sharing that beauty with us!!


Anonymous said...

Wow - your swan shots are fabulous. They are such graceful creature. And well done to the Swan Lady!

Penelope Notes said...

What an incredible story about the Swan Lady. Equally amazing is how the small seeds of her generosity have grown to thousands of pounds of corn feeding hundreds of swans. Thanks for sharing this positive side of human nature!

Liz said...


Barb said...

I love swans and your captures are great! The Swan Lady sure is dedicated. Glad the neighbor is helping her raise a little $$.

Kay L. Davies said...

Beautiful pictures.
What a wonderful story about Sheila the Swan Lady and her neighbor across the park. Just when things on the news start to get me down, someone has a story like this to remind me people are really human after all.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Nicole MacP said...

Wow! What a sight that must be! Great photos, thanks for sharing them (and the story behind it)!

Faythe said...

They are beautiful birds. I am happy they have some habitat and a friend like the swan lady. thankfully the neighbor is helping her and not condemning the birds for messing on his deck.
I applaud her wild life efforts! thanks for sharing :)

Kristin said...

What a fascinating site at Swan Park. They are so beautiful. Truly the gift of nature. Have a nice day.

2sweetnsaxy said...

These are amazing shots! I'm so jealous! :-)