Monticello, Minn., is becoming known as “Swan City” due to its large Trumpeter Swan populations during the winter months. More than 2,000 Trumpeter Swans enjoy a winter vacation along the banks of the Mississippi River within the city limits each winter. The location of the nuclear generating plant upstream allows for the water to remain unfrozen for the swans during the winter months. The dense swan population is largely attributed to the late Shiela Lawrence of Monticello, who began feeding the swans daily 25 years ago. Known as the “Swan Lady” due to her years of selfless efforts to care for the swans, Shiela passed away in April 2011. Her husband Jim Lawrence has taken over the task and carries on the “Swan Lady’s” efforts by feeding the swans every morning at 10:30 a.m. He spends nearly $200 on shelled corn feed for the swans daily, which is funded in part by donations. The area in which the swans spend the months from mid-December through March is known as “Swan Park,” and designated areas are located in the park where visitors can observe the swans. After the winter months, the swans leave Swan Park for the Minnesota lakes.
The Trumpeter Swan was nearly extinct at the beginning of the 20th century, but conservation efforts like the Lawrences’ have helped restore the population in the U.S. since. In the past 30 years, the Trumpeter Swan population has shown 400% growth, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Jim Radford, a professional photographer and Farm Industry News videographer based in Shoreview, Minn., captures the beauty of the swans in this gallery. A video from Radford can be found on YouTube, which shows Jim Lawrence feeding the swans.
Visit Radford’s website for contact information and more samples of his work at http://www.radfordpictures.com/.
Information on finding Swan Park and donating to help feed the swans can be found here. http://www.monticellocci.com/pages/swans