Brownsville, Minn. (WXOW) – It is one of the best times of the year to spot migratory birds and one of the best places to view them is in our area.
The Brownsville Overlook is about three miles south of Brownsville, Minnesota along Highway 26.
A naturalist will be at the overlook from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays during the first three weekends in November to help visitors understand what they’re seeing. Visitors from as far away as Milwaukee and Chicago have been known to make the drive just to see the birds.
There will be spotting scopes available for an extra-close look at the birds and their changing colors. Wildlife experts will tell you that the sight of so many birds gathered in one spot is stunning, but the sound can also be intense.
“The noise that we’re hearing right now is the tundra swans talking,” said Katie Julian as she stood along the railing at the outlook. Julian is a refuge ranger at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. “I don’t know what they’re talking about,” she laughed, “But we usually have anywhere between 1,000 and 25,000 tundra swans that will come and hang out right here in front of the overlook along with American pelicans, bald eagles, pintail, wigeon, gadwall — a bunch of your other shallow-water ducks. So, it’s kind of a fall party.”
Julian added that tundra swans, in particular, come to the refuge to refuel for their long migration journey to the east coast. They gobble up tubers that grow on the bottoms of the arrowhead plants. Julian said the islands in the Mississippi provide protection for the plants to grow and a place for swans to nestle in, out of the wind and away from predators.
The annual Waterfowl Observation Day will be held Saturday, November 9 at the Brownsville Overlook. Refreshments will be available during this event only, with all donations benefiting Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUM). Wildlife-themed items will also be available for purchase.
If you aren’t able to make the special event on November 9th, a naturalist will be available at the Brownsville Overlook on Saturdays and Sundays from November 2 through November 17 between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., weather permitting.