Flight of the Tundra Swan

At their peak, which is usually the second week of November, there can be as many as 50,000 swans on the Refuge

BROWNSVILLE, Minn (WKBT) – The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is gearing up for the arrival of the swans.

The Tundra Swan migration is a highlight of the fall on the Refuge.

At their peak, which is usually the second week of November, there can be as many as 50,000 swans on the Refuge.

The swans will stay until the backwater areas where they feed are frozen. Then, often in one evening, they will all disappear.

They will travel back to the Chesapeake Bay and points south towards the Carolina Shore.

Sometimes they complete this 1,500 mile trip in a single non-stop flight.

“This is what they make National Geographic documentaries out of. It’s a wonderful phenomenon, and I think in today’s time of needing a little uplifting, there’s nothing more uplifting than to hear the sounds and see the sights. It’s magical,” said Joni Welda, a bird watcher who has been watching the swans for over 50 years.

The annual swan watch bus tour won’t be offered this year due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the show yourself.

Grab binoculars, dress for the weather, and head out for some great swan watching.