MONTICELLO, Minn. (WCCO) – It’s hard to believe any birds can tough out our Minnesota winters.

Swans in Monticello choose to stay, with some even living on ice with only a patch of water nearby.

But lately, the Department of Natural Resources has received a lot of calls about birds on ice.

Nongame Wildlife Information Officer Lori Naumann says people think the swans are stranded, but that’s usually not the case.

“We don’t have to come out and save it,” Naumann said. “It’s probably going to be fine.”

She says things do get complicated for birds this time of year. Winter pushes the swans out of their traditional feeding spots, which may include potato fields, corn fields and other lakes.

“When those places are freezing up or being covered with snow, they go to open water,” she said.

Even a sliver of open water is enough, and if there’s no food in sight, they’ll fly south. But Naumann says they’re built for the north.

“They have sort of an anti-freeze in their feet that keeps them from freezing up,” she said. “They have built-in internal temperature regulators that help them, unlike us. We have to cover ourselves with their down to keep warm.”

She says it’s possible a bird can be in trouble, but people should only intervene if the bird is on safe, sturdy ground.

“Nature knows what it’s doing,” she said. “If you care, leave them there.”

If you do happen to see a bird that’s notably sick, and it’s safe to rescue them, Naumann says there are lists of rehabilitation centers in the city that can help.

Click here for more information.

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