Trumpeter Watch is a Citizen Science program of The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS), currently embarking on its third winter season. The goal of this program is to involve members of TTSS, birders, and wildlife enthusiasts in accurately describing the winter distribution of Trumpeter Swans. One focus of Trumpeter Watch is the expanding Interior Population, where – after the success of restoration programs in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and other northern states and provinces – swans are pioneering into new areas south of the 40th parallel.
To better understand the wintering needs of Trumpeters, TTSS requested the help of The Audubon Center at Riverlands, the St. Louis Audubon Society, and the Audubon Society of Missouri to partner this year in an effort to monitor the Great Rivers area. If successful, the program will be the first of several regional efforts; each with its own geographic focus. These partners bring local expertise and access to an extensive network of observers. The Audubon Center at Riverlands, newly opened this October at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is the perfect place for Outreach and Education.
From 1990-2010, Missouri observers have recorded the highest number of Trumpeter Swans wintering in states south of the 40th parallel with sightings in 41 of 114 counties. Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary (RMBS) is the single most important wintering site of the southern states with counts of 500+individuals in the past few years. Other public and private land areas of this confluence area of the Mississippiand Missouri Rivers are seeing increasing numbers of swans as well.
The goal of the Great Rivers Trumpeter Watch is to coordinate a Citizen Science effort to accurately count the number of swans using a variety of habitats, wild and cultivated, in the Great Rivers area. There will be bi-monthly counts at various locations where volunteers will report the number of swans and their activities. Counts will be conducted at the same time to achieve a more accurate total count. Trained volunteers will be assigned to these areas and will complete a simple reporting form on-line after their observation period. Seven proposed areas to be covered in this pilot project are: RMBS, Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge (Swan & Gilbert Lake), Confluence State Park, Portage Des Sioux, Cora Island (Big Muddy), Fields around RMBS & Cora Island, and the Columbia Bottoms State Conservation Area.
Local project coordinators will host an orientation and training session for volunteer observers on Tuesday, December 6 at 9:00 am at theAudubonCenterat Riverlands. The first monitoring date will be Tuesday, December 13th at 8:00 am. Additional dates will be chosen in the near future and January dates will coincide with a national count conducted for the Interior Trumpeter Swan Population by the Mississippi Flyway Swan Committee chaired by Joe Johnson of The Trumpeter Swan Society.
For additional information, please visit the web sites for The Trumpeter Swan Society and the Audubon Center at Riverlands.