We’re very pleased we decided to pioneer Trumpeter Watch in this particular year. Despite lean times for nonprofits and no firm budget set aside for the project, we felt a sense of urgency. In this we were right on the mark.
Chuck Otte, Listserv (KSBIRDS-L) owner and upcoming author on bird distribution in Kansas describes what he calls an “inundation of Trumpeter sightings” since the first of the year. He notes six first county records for Kansas over the last two winters; two have occurred in the last few weeks. From Missouri, David Rogles reports record numbers (counts of over 500) of Trumpeters overwintering near West Alton at Riverlands. Another Missouri observer reported a collared bird (Red 8M5) for which Dave Hoffman (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) gave its history: this bird was born in 2007, spent the next 2 years in Iowa in two different counties, and then appeared near Vernon, Missouri, in 2010, with an unmarked partner.
Mary Bote has kept close tabs on Oklahoma where Trumpeters are showing up across the state, now reported from 11 separate geographic areas. Karen Rowe (Arkansas Fish and Game Commission) notes a lot of action in Arkansas, which she will be reporting to us in a summary at winter’s end. In Indiana, Ryan Sanderson reported a family of five swans in Clay County, four of them had collars traceable to Wisconsin. While the Memphis Zoo is proud to add captive Trumpeters to its new Yellowstone exhibit, birders are excited that wild Trumpeters appeared in recent weeks along the Tennessee-Arkansas border.
We’ve had reports of note from throughout the Trumpeter Watch area. A red-collared bird (6H5) reported by Joy Colbert of Cadiz in Trigg County, Kentucky, originated in Iowa. Some of you may remember the excitement caused by Trumpeters being tallied on a Virginia Christmas Bird Count last year. This year, three collared individuals were found in Virginia likely coming from two sources – Iowa and Wisconsin.
Out west, SeEtta Moss reported two adult Trumpeters near Canon City, Colorado in December. South of that, Narca Moore-Craig, artist and Business Member of TTSS, had us contact Cathie Sandall at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico, who has since kept close tabs on a surviving juvenile, one of two observed there this winter.
What we are learning is that swans are pioneering into new areas and will need to be included in waterfowl management plans for these areas. As we receive and analyze more data, we expect more exciting discoveries.
Photo: Trumpeter Swans on Ice by Gretchen Steele