Archive for June, 2009

Trumpeter Swan Society: Ontario Trumpeter Population Tops 1000

June 26, 2009



Ontario Trumpeter Swan  photo by Tony Beck

Ontario Trumpeter Swan photo by Tony Beck

Volunteers Report Trumpeter Swan Wing Tags – Revealing a Self-Sustaining Population in Ontario




A team of vigilant observers has helped biologist and TTSS board member Harry Lumsden to track and tally what is now a successful, self-sustaining population of Trumpeter Swans in Ontario.  Ontario’s Trumpeters are marked with yellow wing tags. In a typical year, observers report 300-360 individuals. Once a number is read and reported, the data can be entered to help track that bird’s movements, habitat use and reproductive success. Data from tagged bird sightings allows biologists to produce a genetic family tree and to record population growth and range extension. This past year 116 birds were marked in Ontario — 70 of them caught by hand by the team of Bev and Ray Kingdon, Julie Kee and Kyna Intini in the wintering flock that feeds at La Salle Park and other areas near Burlington on the west end of Lake Ontario. Peak numbers recorded for this wintering group were 160 Trumpeters along with 100 Mute Swans. Smaller congregations, where other birds were marked, included Bluffer’s Park, Frenchman’s Bay, Whitby Harbour and Wye Marsh.

Tag sightings by observers across the southern part of the province proved useful even when the number was not recorded. Ontario observers have been asked to keep track of the proportion of marked to unmarked birds in groups observed (even if number is not read). The last four year’s analysis of reported proportions reveals a steady increase in the wild population. As the population grows, the percent of total marked birds has declined. In 2005, it was 54%. By 2006 it had declined to 46%, 2007, 44% and in 2008, 39%. In 2007-08 364 tagged birds were reported. By using this calculated annual percentage rate, with an adjustment for marked birds missed (based on year to year variance in reports of known live tagged birds) along with the percentage ratio of marked to unmarked birds, biologists estimate the population.

Doing the numbers, Harry Lumsden recorded quadruple figures for the Sept. 2007 to Aug. 2008 report — a total of 1018 birds.  The milestone of 1000 birds had been passed!  This number is for adult and sub-adult birds. Cygnets of the year averaged 39% for this period. Applying this ratio to overall numbers, Ontario’s breeding population estimate registers a remarkable 1415 birds. When Harry Lumsden started Ontario’s Trumpeter Swan Restoration program in 1982, Trumpeters had not been seen for almost 100 years, since 1886 when a hunter at Lake Erie’s Long Point shot the last known individual. The Ontario Field Ornithologists honored Lumsden with their Distinguished Ornithologist award for 2008. Among his many career achievements, leading the successful restoration of Ontario’s Trumpeter Swans must bring great satisfaction.

If you are reporting a sighting from ONTARIO, CANADA, please email us directly at as this blog is not monitored regularly.

Trumpeter Swan Slain at Nest – Society Posts Reward

June 11, 2009
Trumpeter Swan Shot at Nest near Ashton, Idaho

Trumpeter Swan Shot at Nest near Ashton, Idaho

    Idaho Fish and Wildlife officials have confirmed the shooting death of a Trumpeter Swan at its nest at Hossner Pond about a mile out from Ashton, Idaho.  On May 29th, while flying over the Greater Yellowstone region on the region’s annual aerial spring nesting survey, biologist and Trumpeter Swan Society Director-at-Large Ruth Shea found something terribly wrong at a well-known nest site. Three eggs lay cold on the swan’s carefully-constructed nest mound – eggs that contained hope for improving on last year’s record lack of reproductive success across the region. Idaho Fish and Game officials were called immediately and went in to investigate and confirm the loss. Yellowstone’s breeding population is on the decline, enough so that TTSS has launched a five-year initiative to help secure the population. Last year marked the lowest reproduction for Yellowstone’s Trumpeter Swans on record with only 2 reported fledged cygnets. The loss of the recently slain bird is more devastating than most probably realize. Idaho had only 15 nesting pairs of Trumpeters in 2008 and only five cygnets reported as fledging in the whole state. To help fight this flagrant violation of wildlife law, The Trumpeter Swan Society has posted a REWARD for information leading to a conviction. Tips should be called into the Fish and Game Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Further details can be found on our website at
Photo: Idaho Department of Fish and Game





Trumpeter Swan Society Photo of the Month – JUNE 2009

June 5, 2009
Mike Dunn - Trumpeter Swan Takeoff in Yellowstone Mike Dunn – Trumpeter Swan Takeoff in Yellowstone

Professional Photographer & TTSS Photo of the Month Host Greg Smith says:

Mike Dunn’s image of a Trumpeter Swan taking flight in the middle of the Yellowstone winter elicits thoughts of elegance in its tones. In this outstanding color photograph that is displayed in shades of black and white, Mike was able to capture each feather’s detail along with droplets of water in the foreground. The ethereal feel of this photo is enhanced by an all-white bird against an all-white background – an incredibly challenging photographic situation that was met with success!

Mike Dunn – Featured Photographer of the Month
Our featured photographer, Mike Dunn, lives in Chatham County, NC , where he has worked 18 years as an educator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Favorite photography spots include his local area, Yellowstone National Park and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge near Plymouth, NC. He has had articles and photographs published in Wildlife in North Carolina magazine, Carolina Country and is a frequent contributor to the Museum’s Naturalist magazine.

Mike conducts workshops every winter along the North Carolina coast to experience the magic of Tundra Swans in their winter home and has helped band swans on several occasions. Of this photo he says, “Seeing Trumpeter Swans in Yellowstone is magical. This shot was taken one gray morning along the Yellowstone River as it winds its way through Hayden Valley. The slapping sound made as they run across the water to get airborne is something that sticks with you – I can hear it every time I look at this picture.”