Archive for June, 2010

Trumpeter Watch – Ten Years of Christmas Bird Count Data

June 18, 2010
Trumpeter Swan Landing by John VanOrman
Trumpeter Swan Landing, photo by John VanOrman

Summer is here and we at The Trumpeter Swan Society working on Trumpeter Watch are reviewing data from our first winter season. We are looking at several sources of data, generated by Citizen Science, to better understand the pattern of winter use for expanding populations of Trumpeter Swans. If you took part in this past winter’s 110th Annual National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, you may have contributed. A summary of the data provides us in essence a snapshot of early winter distribution across states we are tracking south and adjacent to the 40th parallel. Archives of the Counts are readily available and their census over repeated years allows us took look at a relative measure.

Here is the snaphot we found. Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri had Trumpeter Swans in more than one Count circle for five or more of the last ten years. Surprisingly, eastern Colorado has as well. In 2003, a total of 10 Trumpeters were counted across the 18 states we tallied, found in 4 of the states. A surge of Trumpeters in Oklahoma brought the total to 40 one year later (28, found in 4 Count circles). From 2005 to 2007 that number actually varied and declined, and that total was only passed again in 2008, when 59 individuals were tallied over 5 states. Fifty-one of these Trumpeter sightings occurred in Missouri, mainly at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge that year. In 2009 wintering numbers took a giant leap, with a total of 403 tallied in the region. Missouri was the stronghold, recording 374 individuals in 8 Count circles, 337 Trumpeters in the Confluence Circle alone(Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area)! Kansas had numbers in the double digits for 2009 and 2010 as well (16 each year) quite a bit shy of the 600 recorded for Missouri in 2010.

At the start of this new decade there were more Trumpeter Swans wintering south of the 40th parallel than in states immediately north of (Nebraska), or having that line of latitude cross through (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania) combined with two states with restoration flocks we are tracking (Iowa and New York). All states should be on the alert. Florida, Kentucky and Texas have all had 1 count in the last decade with a recorded Trumpeter. New Mexico, Mississippi, and Virginia claim 2 Counts each in that period. Arkansas first recorded Trumpeters on a Count circle in 2007, a year ahead of their restoration release programs began. Still waiting for a first CBC record Trumpeter Swan are Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Who knows what 2011 may bring!

The Trumpeter Swan Society Photo-of-the-Month – June 2010

June 7, 2010
Laura Finazzo   Sleeping in Snow

Laura Finazzo Sleeping in Snow

On the brink of the summer solstice, we bring you an image of… SNOW! Chill out, cool off, and enjoy a beautiful image.

Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of-the-Month host Greg Smith says:

Laura’s photo does an outstanding job of showing how you define a white bird as an object against a white background.  Couple that challenge, with the subtleties exhibited in the shape of the birds and the placement of their necks and heads, and Laura’s photograph becomes an even finer representation of an art.  The crispness of detail in the birds against the muted snow further defines the snow and creates the effect of a winter swan scene.  The small area of shadow at the back of the bird on the right is all the definition the snow needs, while the title completes the assurance of what we are viewing.  This is a superb shot in an artistic format that leaves us all with a sense of how Trumpeter Swans can manages the rigors of winter in a graceful manner.

Featured Photographer for June, 2010 – Laura Finazzo, Hopkins, Minnesota 

Swans were my mother’s favorite bird and since her passing I have picked up the torch to carry on the tradition. I’ve always been a bird lover, thanks to both my parents, but swans are special.

My husband and I have several places we go hoping to catch glimpses into the life and, sometimes death, of these magnificent creatures.  This particular photo was taken in January of 2009 at the Three River Park District, Baker Park Swan Reserve. There were about 100 swans there at the time, kept happy by the small section of open water on the small frozen lake.  These two birds were resting on the snow, while at the same time conserving energy for times to come.

 Laura’s photos can be found on her page sponsored by the National Resource Defence Council and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to create a place for bird-lovers to share stories and information about birds and to help protect birds from activities that harm them and their habitat. Thank you Laura, for supporting conservation through this site, and on our TTSS Blog!