Collared Trumpeter Swan Reports Reveal Stories

Iowa Trumpeter Swans

April is an important month to note observations of Trumpeter Swans as they return to nesting locations. We ask, through our Trumpeter Watch program that you report sightings of Trumpeter Swans.

It’s been an exciting first winter for our Trumpeter Watch program. Recently Dave Hoffman, a biologist with Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources announced that “spring had arrived,” evidenced by the return of one of the Iowa restoration program’s oldest swans to Sakatah Lake State Park, south of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Thanks to observers, we have 16 years of data on this bird and his travels! Green-collared male F02 was donated to Iowa in 1994 at 4 days of age from NW Trek Wildlife Park in Washington State, via TTSS members Martha Jordan and Del Huebner. He was released at Kettleson Hogsback Waterfowl Management Area in July 1995. Since 1998, he has been raising cygnets though his nest location is still a mystery. We assume it may be in Le Sueur County, Minnesota.

F02 spent the latter part of the winter of 1996 in Kansas, and then ventured over to Missouri and on up to South Dakota that March. By fall, he was sighted in Minnesota at several locations, including Sakatah Lake State Park. From observations, we know that he wintered near Kansas City, Missouri, and nested in Minnesota the next 4 years, then changed his pattern to winter in Iowa. In 2003, he lingered in Minnesota until December before returning to the same private pond in Iowa. In 2004, he was in both Iowa and Kansas, and by 2005, he returned to his pattern of spending the winter in Kansas. In 2008 and 2009, he used both Kansas and Iowa wintering sites, but returned north by late February to claim his nest site. It was great to find out last month that he returned March 7, 2010, to Sakatah Lake State Park.

Dave Hoffman estimates that F02 has fathered over 40 cygnets in the wild. As his young are now breeding, F02’s genes are represented in over 100 wild cygnets.

Iowa female red-collared P90 is another example of a wide-ranging traveler we’d like to keep track of. This bird was released on a private pond in Iowa in 2003. In March 2004, she was spotted in Kansas, and then in the fall of that year was spotted far to the north in Manitoba. She headed south that winter, stopping in Iowa and then continuing on to Perry Lake, Kansas, in January 2005. Her mate was shot and killed in 2006. She has three large pellet holes in her webbing and a large pellet dent in her leg band, so she has taken a few pellets as well. Since then, sightings have all been in Iowa where she found a new mate. In 2008 and 2009, she was reported nesting near Clear Lake in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, and has hatched nine cygnets total so far.

The map featured in this Blog post shows how far and wide Iowa birds are ranging. Iowa birds are just one part of the larger story of the Interior Population restoration success. We need diligent observers to help us track Trumpeters on the move. Find out more about Trumpeter Watch and join us in tracking Trumpeters today!


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9 Responses to “Collared Trumpeter Swan Reports Reveal Stories”

  1. Russ Verbofsky Says:

    We had a Trumpeter Swan make a guest visit to our house in Haymarket, VA last Thursday (1 Apr). It was neck banded and the ID is 109Z. The band is a cream color. I have several photos of it. Is this swan an interest to you or do you know who may have tagged it?

  2. Robert Frank Says:


    I live in Calgary Alberta, Canada.
    Yesterday while going about my business I saw a flock of large birds flying north overhead. I am a photographer and alway have my camera handy. On a hunch I drove to a large reservoir where I thought they might have headed. Sure enough, there they were, 40-50 Trumpeter swans. I’ve never seen them before and I was duly impressed. Wow, what a bird. There was a nasty wind blowing over the ice left over from winter and I could only spend a few minutes there but did take a number of shots of them. I’m so impressed with them that I’d like to make them a goal of some more photography, hopefully with your help. I photograph a lot of wildlife but I want to make them a project. Could you possibly help me out with this? Maybe you could with your experience tell me how to go about finding them by telling me some hints and habits so I can intelligently go about locating them this summer. I’ll gladly send some photos from yesterday if you tell me where. I really want to capture them in flight which they weren’t doing yesterday. I am a gentle person and would be very careful not to disturb their lives in any fashion. I want to help them keep their magnificence.


  3. mike lobenstein Says:

    Yesterday I returned to an area for some smallmouth catch and release fishing on the Wisconsin River near Friendship Wisconsin. The pair of Trumpeters that have been in the Marsh area for ten days now are on the nest and for some reason they love my camo canoe and follow me while I am there. I have taken over 100 photos of them from as close as 10 feet away. Absolute beauty. Tagged bird 48y which I reported to the local d.N.R. station and her mate are in beautiful health. I would like to share these pics if there is a place to download them to. I have landing shots, kissing shots and “on the nest from afar” pictures using my 18 zoom nikon. It has been such an honor to watch these magnificent birds. In my line of work I am on the flowages 300 plus days a year, for many years now. This is the first sighting of these great winged birds. I can only pray they are left alone to finish what they have started. let me know if there is an archive where I can share some of my Pictures with the rest of the trumpeter swan community.

  4. Jake Says:

    thanks but next time can you leave some info on where they are seen in alberta?

  5. tina glatch Says:

    I just had a pair of trumpeter swans land in my pond. They are absolutely beautiful. This is on 3/12/11 Saturday in Washington, Iowa in Washington County.

  6. Robert Frank Says:


    I sent the posting of April 14, 2010 from Calgary, Alberta

    This is the first time I’ve seen this post since last year. Although you didn’t mention my name I’m sure your question is directed at me as I am the only one in Alberta on this post. You ask about location. I mentioned that I was in Calgary. What other kind of where info are you looking for?

  7. vicky Says:

    I just seen one 2/10/12 in Donnellson ILL. Tag number H58 yellow

  8. Marsha Meeker Says:

    We saw a trumpeter with a blue collar numbered 6M4 in Medina, Ohio yesterday. He seemed to be alone and approached us looking for food.

  9. Lorraine Riehl Hermiston Says:

    Trumpeter Swan looks like neckband number is 877 has been on the Clark Fork River, near Plains, Montana, by islands near the fairgrounds bridge for a few weeks near our house. The swan is by itself it has a red collar band with yellow numbers. Reported on April 28, 2012.

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