Earlier in February, I was lured by Ken Conger into going to Minnesota to photograph Trumpeter Swans and Owls. Our first stop was at Monticello, where the Swan Lady, Sheila Lawrence has been feeding Trumpeter Swans for about 22 years. About 1000 Swans congregate in her backyard that borders the Mississippi River. Next to her home, there is a small park where visitors cant watch and listen to the cacophony of trumpeting swans calls as well as their up-and-down bobbing of heads, part of their courting rituals. At times when a bald eagle flies overhead, calls become synchronized and a "hoooook" sound blast of alarm is heard. Both adults and yearlings are seen and the young ones follow their parents around, but these will chased away before this year's nesting season. As was the case with the Eagle Lady's backyard (see previous post) you cannot miss getting great photos of these majestic birds or the the commonly seen Canadian geese, mallards...and the occasional bald eagle. There was an attempt to stop feeding this year by the state's Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Wildlife Service. This ban was rescinded because the swans did not migrate to Texas and other states as expected by the officials and to the reports of dying birds due to lack of food.
Jean Keene and Sheila Lawrence have helped wildlife despite opposition by wildlife purists, I have named them the "Bird Ladies". I am sure that there are others that by their love of birds, have generated great joy to those who love and photograph nature. I thank them.