Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tundra Swans, Brownsville, Minnesota

Amazing Beauty on the Back Waters of the Mississippi

Tundra swans resting and feeding make a lot of noise at rest.  Take a look at the black tufts in the water.  I took these photos as the sun was going down creating the soft pink in the water and the sky.

The tundra swans are making their fall migration to the East or West Coasts of the United States.  The birds  feed and rest near Brownsville, Minnesota then travel to the Eastern Atlantic Coast to winter.  They travel and live in large flocks.  Adult birds mate for life, but if one of the pair dies; the other will take a new mate.  The birds mate in the Arctic Tundra of northern Alaska and Canada in the summer.   

The migration is 4000 miles long.  And the young cygnets must learn to fly and make the long migration in order to survive with the flock.  At take off, the tundra swans run for 15-20 feet flapping their wings until they get a lift off.  They fly as high as 6000-8000 feet.  The birds can reach  speeds up to 100 miles an hour with a tail wind.  

The black tufts in the water are coots, a bird that lives in shallow water.  The swans and the coots seem to get along.  This photo by Bob Stuber was taken through a telescope.

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