Nowhere else on the Mississippi will visitors find home to a park offering the site of hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of majestic trumpeter swans. The warm water of the Mississippi River in Monticello draws a multitude of trumpeter swans from November – April of each year, depending on the weather.
The first trumpeter swans arrived at Swan Park in the winter of 1986. Monticello is home to a nuclear power plant, which keeps the water temperature of this stretch of the Mississippi River warm enough for the swans to feel comfortable. Added to that, a local resident, Sheila Lawrence, began feeding the ducks and geese from her home along the river. The swans took advantage of the meal and the warm water hospitality and now make Monticello their winter home each year. The slow current of the river in this area and the shallow depth of the water in the Swan Park area completed the picture – making Swan Park a perfect resting and feeding place for the beautiful birds.
The first thing most notice when they arrive at the Swan Park viewing area is the sound. Hundreds of swans can make quite the racket. The “swan song” of honking and squawking is often a surprise to visitors. However, it is the sight of the graceful birds themselves – with their crisp white feathers, graceful neck, and 7-8 foot wingspan, which never fails to amaze.
According to wildlife experts, in 1933, the entire United States had only 50 breeding swans. Now, Swan Park alone has three to four times that many! Swan Park has become so popular, the City of Monticello has developed a “SwanCam.” Visitors from around the world can view the swans. But, there is nothing quite like seeing the swans in person.