Visitors stopping at Brownsville Overlook have an opportunity to witness a wildlife spectacle on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge. Each fall migrating Tundra Swans blanket the river with a sea of white. Witnessing this magic of migration and listening to the song of the swans echo across the river and bounce off the bluffs is an experience not to be missed.
Migrating day and night, tundra swans flock to the refuge to feed and rest. Their woo-hoo, woo-hoo call can be heard across the river valley. From late October through freeze-up swans grace the refuge. They feast on arrowhead tubers often called duck potato. These tubers are buried in the river bottom and their large webbed feet dislodge the tubers and their long necks reach these tasty morsels. There may be 25,000 swans resting and feeding at one time.
This site is just one stopping point along the 261 mile long Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge established by Congress in 1924. The north end of the refuge begins at the confluence of the Mississippi and Chippewa rivers near Wabasha, Minnesota and ends near Rock Island, Illinois.