Pop! Crackle! Snap! Plop!

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

The phone had been busy. A number of Henderson residents communicated that an adult pair of Trumpeter Swans plus three or four cygnets (juveniles) were feeding in the harvested cornfield immediately north of that city on the west side of Hwy 6. Around noon on Sunday December 30th, the phone rang once more. “A swan has just struck the electrical lines crossing north Sixth Street in Henderson! Swans flying through Henderson??? What shall we do?”

Saddling up ever faithful Frances the blue Ford Focus, off we went on another adventure. Upon arrival on the scene, five sorrowing souls stood about the downed creature, whose broken body now lay lifeless on the dirty snow. The Hardel family, Mark, Amy, Sam, Seth and Grace, stood about the beautiful cygnet, mourning the death of one of nature’s most beautiful creatures. The Hardels have been aware of the return of the trumpeters to Coachlight Pond, have followed the welcome visitants since 2017, and have, as so many others in the vicinity, become enamored of the graceful birds. But on this occasion, feathers, insulation from an electrical wire and a juvenile swan with a broken neck told the story.

Immediate contact was made to personnel of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources plus the US Fish and Wildlife Department. As long as licenses for salvaging dead birds and animals were up-to-date, the bird was collected with the understanding that if no educational institution would care to have the bird mounted for educational purposes, the bird must be buried or incinerated. At this writing, no one has come forward to offer assistance, thus the buff and white creature will have to be destroyed. Is there a benefactor out there in readerland? The bird is temporarily on ice.

Oddly enough, December 14th, the day of the NEY annual Christmas Bird Count, found no swans in the area. Just one of the showy snowy waterfowl would have added to the number of species encountered by more than 73 participants within the 7.5-mile radius of the NEY Center. Tentative results tabulated on January 3rd by a non-biased committee indicated that the modest little dark-eyed junco, a small gray and white bird, won first place among 39 species identified.

A tentative breakdown of numbers includes: juncos, 414; cardinals, 208; house sparrows, 366; chickadees, 199; wild turkeys, 187; blue jays, 185; and, are you surprised that 109 crows flopped about? Final totals for all birds spotted will appear in the January 14th issue of the Indy, in addition, numbers will appear on the NEY Center website.

Frances has made a New Year resolution that may be of interest to readers. She promises not to ‘burn rubber’ or ‘boil over’ when angry about polluters and desecraters of Mother Earth. It is common for our little blue bird-chaser, the Focus, to find debris along the shores of the Coachlight Pond, and on the bank of Bucks’ Lake, plus at other spots as one enters Henderson or LeSueur. You’ve all seen the bottles and cans lobbed by slobs getting rid of ‘the evidence.’ When Frances blew up to the edge of the parking area at Bucks New Year’s Eve, she was horrified at the scene on the shoreline of that water body. (See photo.) Someone or some ‘thing’ had placed an aquarium on the shoreline of the lake. It was turned over on its side as if to release ‘something’ into the lake, and was quite smashed. WHO or WHAT would empty their aquarium of WHAT or WHICH and leave the battered glass object for someone else to clean up? Many small children play on the meager sandy beach at that spot, while they fish for bullheads and other denizens of the deep.
The dismal scene left Frances and her passengers in a deep dark funk!
But, a ray of sunshine in the form of an email lay ahead. Upon opening a message from a close friend in Florida, one found a photo taken on New Year’s Day, 2020. Those who study monarch butterflies know that mature monarchs leave the Minnesota River Valley by mid-September and bask in the oyamel fir trees in Mexico until their numbers start back toward Minnesota in February. Not so!

Some stay in southern California, while others, like the one in the attached photo, travel down the east coast of the United States, and go through their life cycle in Florida, which has 20 species of milkweed…the living is good just as it is for snowbirds from Minnesota. What a way to begin a new year, a sign of hope in the midst of winter. Frances is now in much better humor, she’s resolved to keep trash bags and boxes in her dainty trunk to thwart the ignorant habits of public polluter. Seers and prophets for thousands of years have stated, “There is faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is LOVE.” BELIEVE!