Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

WANTED! Marked Tundra Swan Reports – Wintering Birds from Alaska

November 26, 2010
Marked Tundra Swan Blue Collar AK project

Reports Wanted! Marked (blue-collared) Tundra Swans Disperse from Alaska

REPORT MARKED TUNDRA SWANS
November is migration time for Tundra Swans which pour forth from the north. All observers are asked to be vigilant for sightings of marked TUNDRA SWANS WITH BLUE NECK BANDS FROM ALASKA.  An impressive effort has gone into marking 1873 individuals in the last three years. Your observations will be key to success of this effort!
TUNDRA SWANS WERE MARKED IN WESTERN AND NORTHERN ALASKA IN THE SUMMERS OF 2006-2010 WITH CODED NECK BANDS AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TIMING OF MIGRATION AND MOVEMENTS OF SWANS RELATIVE TO BREEDING AREA.
NECK BANDS HAVE A FOUR-DIGIT CODE THAT BEGINS WITH A LETTER. CODES ARE READ FROM BOTTOM TO TOP. BANDS ARE BLUE WITH WHITE DIGITS, EXCEPT CODES T3##, WHICH ARE WHITE WITH BLACK DIGITS.
______________________________________________________
Marking Location,  Codes, #/year:2006 – 2008,  2009 , 2010,  Total #
Yukon Delta:  K###    (227)     (100)    (0 )     Total = 327
Alaska Peninsula (North) :    N###     (— )  (— )   (52)    Total = 52
Alaska Peninsula (North):  P###   (148)   (105)  (51)   Total = 304
Alaska Peninsula (South):  T###    (155)   (— )  (101 )   ( 256)

Koyukuk Drainage*:  T213-228, U075-U120, U390-U399  (66)  (—)  (–)  Total = 66
North Slope:   T172-212, 296-299 T3##   (84 )  (—)  (— )  Total=  84
Kotzebue Sound:   U###   (390)  (197) (197 )  Total = 784
Totals:  (2006-2008 = 1070    (2009 = 402)   (2010 = 401)   Total to date: 1873
_______________________________________________________
* Collars with codes U075 – U120 have the letter separated from the numbers (oriented
vertically)

In 2008, 50 swans were implanted with satellite transmitters, many of which are still functioning. Birds with transmitters were not collared, but have a black antenna exiting near the base of the tail. The movements of these swans can be followed at our web site: http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/avian_influenza/TUSW/index.html

 PLEASE REPORT ANY OBSERVATIONS TO the USGS Bird Banding Lab ) to the Trumpeter Watch program of TTSS trumpeterwatch@trumpeterswansociety.org or direct to biologist
Craig Ely
Alaska Science Center
4210 University Drive Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7182
EM: cely@usgs.gov

This Alaska office, as well as the Bird Banding Lab WILL PROVIDE ALL OBSERVERS WITH A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BANDED SWAN THEY OBSERVED. Those reported to TTSS will be forwarded to the BBL and to Craig. Thank you!

Photo: Martha Jordan

Trumpeter Swans and Climate Change

May 25, 2010

Trumpeter Swans and Climate Change

Trumpeter Swan by John Van Orman

The effects of climate change on Trumpeter Swan populations will likely be complex and will differ across their extensive range, which spans much of North America. Scientists have documented a shift in range for various species due to warming temperatures. As is the case with Trumpeters, as ranges shift northward, there can be different problems to the south.

If one looks only at Alaska, there could be a positive aspect of warming temperatures for Trumpeters. Earlier, we pointed you to Dr. Joshua Schmidt’s 2009 Journal of Wildlife Management article in which he summarized the 5-year survey data showing Trumpeter Swans successfully breeding farther north in Alaska. He notes the possibility that northward range expansion in recent years may be due in part to climate change, citing a nearly 12-day increase in the number of ice-free days per year occurring over the last 100 years in Alaska. He suggests that it “is feasible that this increase in the number of ice-free days is enough to allow swans to breed in areas that were previously unavailable due to ice cover.”

A recent Blog, entitled World Climate Report  gleefully highlights this idea in their May 20th essay, and erroneously implies that the entire growth of the Alaskan Trumpeter population since 1968 is due to climate change. The Blog presents an idyllic photo of a Trumpeter with two cygnets, underscored with the caption “Trumpeter Swans Thriving in a World of Enriched CO2.” The authors appear to be unaware of the primary factors that fueled the increase of Alaskan Trumpeters, such as the cessation of the historic overharvest and the massive increase of agricultural food availability in their southerly wintering areas. It appears that the Blog is more focused on attempting to dismiss the serious problems caused by climate change than in increasing anyone’s understanding of the forces impacting Trumpeter Swan populations.

Authors of this Blog quote extensively from The Trumpeter Swan Society website  and chide TTSS for listing climate change as one of the problems facing Trumpeters. Unfortunately the World Climate Report made no effort to contact TTSS to understand why we include climate change as a problem facing Trumpeters.

Ruth Shea, TTSS Board Member and long-term advocate and biologist for the vulnerable Greater Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan population cautions us keep a 360° view. Commenting on the Blog, she replies:

“Since I wrote the information they quoted from our website- I thought I’d make a few comments. Basically, it is possible that Trumpeters in some areas may benefit from a warmer climate, since breeding range is often limited by the ice-free period and winter severity limits use of some potential wintering sites. However, in locations where the shallow wetlands essential for Trumpeter Swan nesting are drying up at an increasing rate, problems are developing. Here in the Intermountain West, warming climate is impacting the nesting habitat of an already fragile population and could prevent its recovery if this trend continues. We are seeing declining water levels in many historic nesting sites, and are losing crucial water supplies even on some key National Wildlife Refuges. Some important territories in Yellowstone National Park are now completely unusable due to declines in the water table. One of our greatest challenges will be to figure out how to maintain adequate breeding habitat for this population if this trend continues. If we fail, the future of this nesting population will be in jeopardy.”

If the hosts of the World Climate Report had come to us to inquire why we list climate change as one of the problems facing Trumpeter Swans, we would have explained our concerns. As we have for over 40 years, we’ll celebrate success in one area, while keeping a watch on all sides of the issue and presenting the most accurate information available. If the World Climate Report had not closed their comment period so quickly after posting their essay, we would have submitted our comments to them. As always, we welcome your comments here.

Find more John VanOrman photos at www.vanormanphotography.photoshelter.com

For an Alaskan Trumpeter Swan, a Happy Ending

September 12, 2009

Four kayakers from the Seward-based company Kayak Adventures Worldwide  recently teamed up with biologists

Alarmed Trumpeter Mate Takes to the Sky  photo: Wendy Doughty, Kayak Adventures Worldwide

Alarmed Trumpeter Mate Takes to the Sky photo: Wendy Doughty, Kayak Adventures Worldwide

from the Alaska Sealife Center (ASLC)  to rescue a Trumpeter Swan illegally shot and injured by a vandal’s bow and arrow. Answering a call to help from Heidi Cline, Avian Curator for the ASLC, co-owner Wendy Doughty got a show of support from four of her guides. In a quick response they closed the office and headed north to Tern Lake to volunteer their skills.

Years of paddling experience paid off as despite its injuries the swan proved to be wary, swift and strong. Its mate, alarmed, took to the sky. On a first attempt, the kayakers steered the swimming bird for close to a mile, into a narrow cove where biologists waited by a 70 ft. net strung for the capture. On seeing the net, the swan abruptly turned and swam rapidly the other direction, crossing one of the small islands in Tern Lake. The kayakers quickly reversed and came up with plan B in which they successfully moved the bird toward a shoreline. Here ASLC’s Tasha DiMarzio, senior aviculturist, jumped into the water to make the capture. The bird calmed under her experienced grasp.

Tern Lake is located at the busy intersection of the highway from Anchorage where it branches to Seward or Homer. Here, a small crowd gathered and several media people were on hand for the capture which lasted about an hour. Reporters from the Seward City News wrote: ‘“Its wing was pinned to its body,”’ said ACLC Stranding Coordinator Tim Lebling. Lebling described the target arrow as one shot at close range, piercing almost 10cm into the swan’s chest. Thankfully, it missed the swan’s vital organs.  

Now two weeks later, Tim Lebling reports to The Trumpeter Swan Society that the swan is back with its mate and doing

Trumpeter Rescue   photo: Wendy Doughty Kayak Adventures Worldwide

Trumpeter Rescue photo: Wendy Doughty Kayak Adventures Worldwide

well and that Heidi Cline has returned to see the bird actively foraging and mobile. Lebling says “our hopes are that it will lose the swelling and pain from the arrow and regain strength by October when they usually migrate from that particular lake. The ASLC will continue to monitor both swans until then.” If twenty-three pounds of fast-moving Trumpeter captured the admiration of the rescuers, their actions certainly inspire ours. The care and concern expressed by the community for this individual Trumpeter certainly bodes well for our efforts to restore and secure Trumpeter Swan populations continent-wide. Visit us at http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org for more details on our work with this magnificent species.


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