ANNOUNCING: Trumpeter Watch

A Citizen-Science Project to Monitor Winter Trumpeter Swan Distribution
YOU CAN HELP!! Nov 1, 2009 – May 1, 2010

Swans Dancing

Photo by Arnie Frederickson

Improving winter security is a TTSS strategic goal for Trumpeters coast to coast. This year, we plan to closely monitor Interior Population Trumpeter Swans. You can help! Join our network of volunteer observers to document the changing winter distribution of Trumpeter Swans in the following states: NE, KS, OK, TX, eastern NM & CO, MO, AR, IL, IN, KY, TN, LA, MS, AL, VA, MD, and DE (or any other Interior or Atlantic State where Trumpeter Swans are observed).

The task of restoring Interior Population Trumpeters has been highly successful but is not yet done. As northern breeding flocks expand, increasing numbers of Trumpeters are pioneering towards historic wintering areas south of the 40th parallel. Trumpeters are showing up in places they have not frequented for over 100 years. Little is known about the numbers of southward migrants, the habitats they use, or the conditions that they are encountering.

TTSS has launched Trumpeter Watch, a citizen science program to help track Trumpeters on the move as they explore and use new winter habitat. TTSS is reaching out to members and active birders to submit winter observations of Trumpeter Swans and the habitats that they are using.  Trumpeter Watch will serve as an effective information system into which observers can report sightings.

As of Nov. 1st, we have observers registered in five states, and our first sightings reports have been sent in by David Rogles of Missouri. He spotted 10 Trumpeters arriving at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA). Dave reports that numerous swans in the past have stopped here during migration and last winter they had 360 or more swans over-wintering. Thanks to David for being our first registered participant in Trumpeter Watch to report!

Summarized data from the winter sightings will be given to managers and presented on our website to help document the current winter distribution of Trumpeters as they move southward and identify potential over-wintering sites. It is our hope that details of current use patterns and the habitats used will help provide a solid foundation for management efforts to rebuild more secure winter distributions.

WHY IS YOUR HELP NEEDED?♦ By 1900, Trumpeter Swans were extirpated from nesting and wintering areas in Central and Eastern North America. Lost with the swans was their historic knowledge of migration routes and southern wintering sites. For Trumpeters, migration is mostly a behavior learned from experienced adults. Therefore, reestablishing traditional historic patterns is difficult.

♦ In recent decades, wild nesting populations of Trumpeters have been successfully restored in several northerly states and Ontario. Most swans now winter near their northern breeding areas, but an unknown number are pioneering southward and beginning to establish use of more southerly wintering sites.

♦ Little is known regarding the numbers and groupings of southward migrants, the location and characteristics of sites they are pioneering, duration of use, or problems they may be encountering.

♦ By providing information through Trumpeter Watch, observers can help document the changing distribution of wintering Trumpeter Swans and help identify potential new southerly wintering sites.

We ask you to REGISTER for Trumpeter Watch
You can do so online at http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/. Observers report any first observation of a Trumpeter Swan at a new location to us as soon as possible, using our Trumpeter Watch OBSERVATION FORM.   Regular watchers submit a summary of observations to us by the 10th of each month throughout the study period. We want to document key habitat information as well as details about the swans.

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