Minnesota’s Suburban Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swan Adult with Cygnets by Arnie Frederickson

Trumpeter Swan Adult with Cygnets by Arnie Frederickson

Minnesota is known for its 10,000+ lakes and many more small marshes and bogs with high numbers of nesting Common Loons (greatest number in the Lower 48 States) and Bald Eagles (right behind Alaska and Florida). In more remote parts of Minnesota, most of the wetlands are difficult to access to count waterfowl except by airplane. Later this year, Minnesota will participate in the 2010 Trumpeter Swan population survey.

Last year, it was estimated that about 3,000 Trumpeters live in the state. While Trumpeters occur most often in remote marshes (they prefer quiet marshes over larger lakes with boat traffic), they have also proven to be quite adaptable to humans. Arnie Fredrickson, long-time TTSS member, is a swan volunteer for Three Rivers Park District and has found, along with reports from landowners, a number of nesting territories located right in the middle of suburbia. Plymouth and Maple Grove, Hennepin County, have populations between 60,000 – 70,000 people and host successful nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans. One of the Maple Grove pairs is raising seven cygnets this year! Two pairs are adjacent to subdivisions and one pair is in a marsh right behind a busy shopping mall. Another pair with six cygnets claimed a territory on a former golf course pond in Anoka County that now has a new housing development surrounding the pond. Another pair with cygnets occupies a small marsh behind a housing development in Medina, Hennepin County. Frequent reports from local residents show how excited the human neighbors are to have swans on territory in their neighborhood. The swans keep their distance, but offer great views of family life for the residents. While we think of Trumpeter Swans as symbols of wilderness, the swans are showing us that some are very adaptable. At least six pairs of swans in the western Minneapolis metro area have broods of six to eight cygnets.

Madeleine Linck works with Hennepin County Parks, and is a long-time staff member of The Trumpeter Swan Society.

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