Trumpeter Swans communicate through voice and wing display

Photograph by Hadassah Zohara

TTSS Blog 2019

My Swan Story by Susan F.

OKLAHOMA: I'm in Oklahoma and my story is short. I was getting out of my car when I heard the craziest noise. Like a clown car coming at me from the air. I looked up to see 2 huge white birds shouting at each other as they flew. It takes a lot to amaze me, but this did. It was great to see my first Trumpeters.

My Swan Story by Christy B.

MINNESOTA: Taken from a Trumpeter Watch report, November 21, 2019
8:25 am cloudy with light snow showers 35 degrees F
Location - on the Mississippi river just east of Gray Cloud Island on the north side of the river/the Cottage Grove bank - in a area that is protected by several sandbars, about mile 820. The water is generally shallow in this area around the sandbars. I could very clearly see these beauties from the sunroom of our home facing the river. I did view them for several minutes with binoculars and without. The 5 (2 adults and 3 juveniles) were just gently swimming down river, dipping in the water and flapping their wings - what a thrilling sighting!!

This is not the first sighting of Trumpeter swans here but it has been several years since I have seen them. I have not seen a family of these lovely swans before at this location.

IOWA: "Three men have been charged after they shot a trumpeter swan in eastern Iowa, having mistaken it for a snow goose, authorities said...The men confessed when they were interviewed...The DNR said the swan has been preserved and will be displayed for education and outreach purposes...The citations are punishable by fines and fees totaling $322.50 for each man." Read more...

WASHINGTON: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has re-established a hotline to report dead, sick, or injured swans in northwest Washington counties. This is part its ongoing effort to assess the impact of lead poisoning on trumpeter and tundra swans.

People can call (360) 466-4345, ext. 266, to report dead, sick or injured swans in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and other western Washington counties. Callers should be prepared to leave a short detailed message including their name, phone number, location, and condition of the swans. The hotline is available 24/7 through the end of March." Read more...

WYOMING: "November, and the natives are restless. So are their relatives from up north, tundra swans. Trumpeter swans and their more northerly kind, tundra (whistling) swans, are leaving or have left their summering and nesting quarters, heading for wintering grounds. Impressive numbers of each of these large, white waterfowl customarily spend some November days on waters in Jackson Hole, often at the north end of Jackson on Flat Creek. Several viewing spots permit observers (and photographers) great opportunities to admire, study and photograph swans on the National Elk Refuge." Read more...

NEW HAMPSHIRE: "It has been more than 200 years since a Trumpeter Swan has been seen here in the Granite State, until this spring, when the excitement at the Audubon headquarters was palpable. The buzz around the office was that there was a Trumpeter Swan being seen at the Abe Emerson Marsh in Candia." Read more...

MINNESOTA: "This morning their musical honking calls draw me to the shore of the small natural environmental lake bordering our farm. Yes, there they are, sounding like a symphony in brass—our pair of trumpeter swans in gleaming white plumage with two dusky gray cygnets by their side. Soon they, too, will be migrating." Read more...

MINNESOTA: "Waabiziiwag giiwewag, "the swans return home." This work to restore some of the original dignity of this land and waters is the work of a lot of people and agencies who are often not acknowledged. These birds were returned from the brink of extinction because they were classified as a non-game species. They were restored because people worked together, and the swans wanted to come home. They are some pretty noble creatures.

As I pass the shores of Shell Lake, I often stop to put my tobacco out in prayer for the wonders of the north country, and the headwaters of the Mississippi, home of the Waabiziiwag. Their homecoming has been long awaited. " Read more...

ALBERTA: "A trio of swans was flying directly overhead. They’d just lifted off from a group of maybe 50 or so of their siblings and cousins, running across the water and flapping their huge wings to get airborne. Rising into the air, they banked and headed off southwest, bleating out farewells to the birds they’d left behind — or maybe just telling each other to watch how they were flying — and heading toward the truck." Read more...

That is a question we receive at The Trumpeter Swan Society. Feeding young swans "human food" or food that is rich in protein and calories can also contribute to "angel wing" during their growth, a deformity of the wings which can permanently prevent a swan from flying.

Here is a video by Michael Kent of a swan cygnet that has “angel wing” on both wings. See what feeding young swans "human food" can lead to...

IDAHO & WYOMING: The Upper Snake River region will receive $1 million to protect and enhance 1,691 acres of migrating, breeding and wintering habitat. The funding will specifically target improvements to benefit trumpeter swan, northern pintail and mallard ducks. Another project will permanently protect 785 acres, while restoring 2,370 acres and enhancing 563 acres in Western Wyoming. Read more...

WISCONSIN: A Century Ago, There Were No Trumpeter Swans Left In Wisconsin, Today Their Numbers Reach 6K. Wisconsin Public Radio shares the story of the beginnings of Wisconsin's trumpeter swan restoration thirty years ago. Flights to Alaska to collect eggs in wild swan nests, to hatching the eggs at zoo partners, the return of trumpeter swans to Wisconsin is a story of adventure, dedication and persistence. Read more...

MONTANA: Five Trumpeter Swan cygnets were released into the Blackfoot Valley at Jones Lake on the Rolling Stone Ranch. "Greg Neudecker, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explained to about 150 people gathered at the edge of the lake that after 15 years, they’re close to concluding the efforts to re-establish trumpeter swans in the Blackfoot watershed... for three years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took eggs from nests in Canada, where the trumpeter swan population was thriving. They had a strategy; usually, trumpeter swans lay four to seven eggs. Neudecker’s group would leave two that were fertile and take the rest.

“We gathered 60 eggs for three years in a row,” he said. “Then we took them to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to hatch, then brought them here and released them...So far, the Fish and Wildlife Service and a host of partners have released 250 trumpeter swans in the Blackfoot Valley in the past 15 years, with a goal of seven successful nesting pairs for two consecutive years in a row.” Read more...

WISCONSIN: Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine takes a fascinating look back at the story of the return of trumpeter swans to the state. "RESEARCHERS REWIND 30 YEARS TO TELL THEIR FIRST-PERSON TALE OF SECOND CHANCES FOR AN ESTEEMED SPECIES."
"The plan was to collect eggs from the wilds of Alaska to be hatched at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The young would be reared in captivity and in the wild before they were released. DNR research scientists, wildlife managers and technicians were involved along with participants from the zoo, UW-Madison and scores of organizations and individuals.

In spring 1989, three years after the state set a recovery goal of 20 breeding and migratory trumpeter swan pairs by the year 2000, we prepared to go to Fairbanks, Alaska, our launch point west toward the vast wetland complex known as the Minto Flats. This was where the first of our Alaskan trumpeter swan egg collections would occur." Read more...

IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY: Idaho State University biological sciences master’s student Paige Miller has continued ISU research of Southeast Idaho Trumpeter Swans this summer by using remote cameras and placing tiny thermometers inside of empty egg shells...The cameras allow researchers to monitor the swans 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, to investigate swan incubation constancy across the refuges. “Setting up the camera systems on the nest and being able to review the footage, we get to see swans from right after they laid the eggs, to the incubation and maintenance of the nest, to hatching the eggs to teaching their cygnets (baby swans) on how to be a swan and survive." Read more...

OREGON:
"Across the state, biologists count 17 baby swans this breeding season, the same number as last year. But there are at least four other nests with eggs that could hatch, potentially making this the most successful breeding season in recent memory. The increase is a sign the species is recovering from being hunted to near-extinction around the turn of the 20th century, when no swans remained in Oregon. Today, about 35 trumpeter swans live year-round in Oregon. " Read more

OREGON: Sunriver. “It’s been a great year for Central Oregon swans”
"Sunriver Nature Center staff can’t believe the odds. Exactly two years since four baby trumpeter swans hatched on the Fourth of July, another four fuzzy heads appeared Thursday from their mother’s nest on the nature center’s Lake Aspen. Two pairs of trumpeter swans, Gracie and Gus and the Sisters' swan pair, Eloise and Pete, are part of the state’s breeding program that is trying to help repopulate the once threatened species. The protected species is still slowly recovering after being hunted to near-extinction in the early 1900s, when none remained in Oregon. Today, about 35 trumpeter swans live year-round in Oregon." Read more...

OREGON: Not Singing the Swan Song.The tales of two trumpeter couples in Central Oregon. There is happy news in Oregon as our partnership trumpeter swan breeding pair at Aspen Lakes Golf resort in Oregon hatched 8 cygnets! The pair met last year and hatched one cygnet which was released at Summer Lake Wildlife Area this spring. This summer the happy pair welcomed a very large number of cygnets. Read more...

MONTANA: Montana's Centennial Valley, west of Yellowstone National Park, is known to millions of school children who read E.B. White's, "Trumpet of the Swan." Kristen Inbody of The Great Falls Tribune shares how ranching, a refuge and a beloved children's novel are part of the fabric of isolated valley. It includes beautiful photographs, a short video of trumpeter swans in the valley, and fine storytelling (plus maps). Read more...

OREGON
Our Oregon Restoration Project had great news! "At last, Gracie will have a second chance at love.

The adored trumpeter swan at the Sunriver Nature Center has been alone since losing her mate, Chuck, on Thanksgiving Day in 2017, when he was illegally shot and killed by a young hunter on the Deschutes River northwest of Sunriver.

But on Monday, she was introduced to a new mate, who was transported from the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Southwest Michigan." Read more...

IOWA: Share in the excitement of hundreds of Iowa students who came to learn about trumpeter swans and watch their release three Iowa locations. Watch this 30 second video posted on TTSS's Facebook page.

Twenty trumpeter swan cygnets were the “stars of the show” at this year’s southern Iowa swan releases in early May. The nearly-one-year-old cygnets were donated from zoos in Cleveland, Kansas City, Green Bay, Oklahoma City, Bronx, Anchorage, Southwick (Massachusetts), Topeka, Omaha and Maryland.

Eight of the trumpeter swan cygnets were released at Iowa’s Lake Anita State Park. Hundreds of enthusiastic Iowa students, teachers, and the public came to see the release and learn about trumpeter swans...

MONTANA: "Watching this trumpeter once again reminded me of how important conservation properties like Teller are by providing undisturbed stopover habitat for species like the trumpeter. Even if it was just a few days, the resting and foraging habitat provided to this bird will ensure that it will depart to Canada or Alaska in good shape. My hope is that this bird returns next year with a mate to consider raising a brook on Teller." Read more...

The New York Times shares the successes of trumpeter swan restoration, the dedication of people who made it happen, and continuing regional issues trumpeter swans still face, in this fascinating article written by Karen Weintraub. From sea to shining sea, trumpeter swans are making a comeback. Read more...

My Swan Story by Carlene H.
My Swan Story by Carlene H.

My husband and I went out to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Cheney, Washington on Saturday February 2nd because it was a warm 40 degrees and in the next few days we were going to be in the deep freeze! As soon as we walked up the trail, we heard the powerful flapping of wings overhead and then looked up and saw a pair of Trumpeter swans flying in and landing near us on Middle Pine Lake. They preened a little bit and then swam around to eat. Parts of the lake were frozen but most of it was not. There were times when the sky was blue and it made you forget it is winter! I stood still for awhile and they got very close. It was nice to see such loveliness in winter.

OREGON: The Trumpeter Swan Society has partnered with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a healthy Oregon breeding flock; releasing birds at Summer Lake Wildlife Area, which is a good place for bird watchers to see them. Good news is that trumpeter swans are migrating through Oregon, and February is a good month to spot them among the vast tundra swan flocks moving through the Klamath Basin. Read about their comeback to North America, the challenges they face, and the what is being done to help their return...

"The provincial minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development made the comment in a press release announcing that the wetlands just north of Duncan are the province’s newest wildlife management area.

“Wildlife management areas help to meet government’s mandate to sustainably manage B.C.’s ecosystems, rivers and lakes, as well as improving wildlife management and habitat conservation,” Donaldson said.

The unique wetland is home to more than 200 species of birds including but most certainly not limited to a massive trumpeter swan population and great blue herons. It’s also home to the rare Garry oak ecosystem and is a significant fish and wildlife habitat as well. Read more...

Adam Janke, Assistant Professor - Natural Resource and Ecology Management at Iowa State University, explains the persistent challenge of mitigating lead poisoning in wildlife. There are several resources with further information at the end of the article.

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