CRASH! Going, going, and gone!

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Many will remember the familiar silver-gray steel LeSueur water tower east of Fourth Street and north of Boright, a block from Seneca Seed Research. Constructed in 1959, It was one of those structures which wasn’t noticed until it disappeared between late November and mid-December 2022. Kevin Mager, his dad Mark, mother Betty and sister, Jodi, lived in the shadow of the edifice for over 60 years…in fact, dripping water from the center support column signaled the family, working in their garden a short distance away, that the day was humid. Water passed through the center support column, not the pipe-like spindles. Another piece of LeSueur history bit the dust, or should we say, crashed to earth in late November and half of December, 2022. Dismantling of the edifice was a sight to behold. Kevin began taking photos of equipment, (especially a giant crane) and of the cold daring workers. He has accumulated almost 200 photos of the monstrous undertaking. A new water tower northeast of the former tower now takes over the task of water distribution.

Large broad-winged ebony birds will be surprised when they arrive to the LeSueur area come 2023 spring migration, as the railings along the top of the tower attracted turkey vultures. When their day’s work was finished, the vultures would lazily drift into LeSueur, mount the water tower railings, and discuss the events of the day. Often, 30 strong at times, they would spread their wings, making them appear larger than their four foot wingspread. This heraltic pose, facing the setting sun, was awe inspiring. Sometimes at dawn, they would face the rising sun, extend their wings like giant bats, and soon the accumulated dew on their wings would dry, ready for their imminent departure for the day’s chores. Remember, the early bird catches the worm, or in the case of a vulture, catches the road-kill splattered on local highways right-of-ways.

When the homely (by some human standards) ebony creatures swished through the airwaves, their dark foreboding shadows would scatter children playing outdoors, sending them homeward bound. The LeSueur vultures sometimes took in a baseball game at Bruce Frank field from the vantage of the light standards. They never pay to see games, yet have the best seats (towering light fixtures) in town. Folks who live in a wooded area of residences are often irritated by vultures which choose to spend the night in spruce trees above recent barbecue meals, then sleep the nights away burbling and barfing… a most eeriel racket. The question then becomes, with the water tower railings absent, what effect will this incur upon the unwelcome morticians? Currently, the migrators are visiting relatives in the U.S. South, or further in Central and South America.
Citizen scientists are not prone to report turkey vultures with their Christmas Bird Count. One may see a variety of eagles, hawks, other raptors, but vultures would have a difficult time pecking through or disemboweling frozen mammal desserts this season of the year. Locals are heartily invited to take part in the December 17th Christmas Bird Count at NEY Center; near your home bird feeders; in area parks and meadows, and especially near water sources. The count of aquatic birds has been sorely lacking in the past few years, spotters are especially needed there. If you haven’t received bird count forms or wish to participate, please contact Alex at Ney, 507.357.8580, or the Straubs at 665.2658. This is an opportunity for individuasl or families to shorten the winter days and be adventuresome.