06 December 2009

Creating Habitat for Swans

For the past four years, various government agencies
have collaborated to build 26 islands in the Mississippi River,
restoring aquatic habitat so important for migratory waterfowl.

Tundra swans rest on the edge of one of the new islands.
Rock rip-rap is used to protect the islands from erosion
which caused so much damage in the past.

The islands protect from the river currents and wind action allowing
for aquatic vegetation to grow between them.

The swans eat an estimated 6 pounds of tubers from aquatic plants
such as wild celery, arrowhead and sago pondweed.

Prior to the 1970s, only “small numbers” of tundra swans consistently stopped along the Mississippi River on their way to wintering grounds in the Chesapeake Bay.
In recent years, fall swan numbers
on the Upper Mississippi River have swelled to more than 30,000 during late November.

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