In the spotlight: Monticello, Minnesota

swansAs the days grow shorter and fall turns to winter, people begin to flock to Monticello, Minn., a TDS and TDS TV market. Monticello, located about 40 minutes northwest of Minneapolis, sits on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Tourists come from all over to see the more than 2,000 Trumpeter Swans that call the frigid, open waters of the Mississippi home between November and March.

Trumpeter Swans, who get their name from their trumpet-like call, are covered in bright white feathers with ebony bills, legs, and feet. They are, on average, the largest waterfowl species alive today. Trumpeter Swans have a wing span between six and eight feet and normally weigh between 21 and 35 pounds. According to the National Park Service, they’re about four feet tall however if their neck and legs are outstretched, they can measure nearly six feet long from bill to feet.

According to the City of Monticello’s website, the beautiful bird was widespread and relatively common until the mid-1800s. But, as central and Western Minnesota were settled, the swans were hunted to near extinction. Starting in the 1960s, conservation efforts helped the population more than double. In fact, the restoration program was so successful, up to 40 percent of the Minnesota Trumpeter Swan population settle in Monticello each year. For more information on best times and places to see swans click here.

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