Archive for November, 2010

WANTED! Marked Tundra Swan Reports – Wintering Birds from Alaska

November 26, 2010
Marked Tundra Swan Blue Collar AK project

Reports Wanted! Marked (blue-collared) Tundra Swans Disperse from Alaska

REPORT MARKED TUNDRA SWANS
November is migration time for Tundra Swans which pour forth from the north. All observers are asked to be vigilant for sightings of marked TUNDRA SWANS WITH BLUE NECK BANDS FROM ALASKA.  An impressive effort has gone into marking 1873 individuals in the last three years. Your observations will be key to success of this effort!
TUNDRA SWANS WERE MARKED IN WESTERN AND NORTHERN ALASKA IN THE SUMMERS OF 2006-2010 WITH CODED NECK BANDS AS PART OF AN EFFORT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TIMING OF MIGRATION AND MOVEMENTS OF SWANS RELATIVE TO BREEDING AREA.
NECK BANDS HAVE A FOUR-DIGIT CODE THAT BEGINS WITH A LETTER. CODES ARE READ FROM BOTTOM TO TOP. BANDS ARE BLUE WITH WHITE DIGITS, EXCEPT CODES T3##, WHICH ARE WHITE WITH BLACK DIGITS.
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Marking Location,  Codes, #/year:2006 – 2008,  2009 , 2010,  Total #
Yukon Delta:  K###    (227)     (100)    (0 )     Total = 327
Alaska Peninsula (North) :    N###     (— )  (— )   (52)    Total = 52
Alaska Peninsula (North):  P###   (148)   (105)  (51)   Total = 304
Alaska Peninsula (South):  T###    (155)   (— )  (101 )   ( 256)

Koyukuk Drainage*:  T213-228, U075-U120, U390-U399  (66)  (—)  (–)  Total = 66
North Slope:   T172-212, 296-299 T3##   (84 )  (—)  (— )  Total=  84
Kotzebue Sound:   U###   (390)  (197) (197 )  Total = 784
Totals:  (2006-2008 = 1070    (2009 = 402)   (2010 = 401)   Total to date: 1873
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* Collars with codes U075 – U120 have the letter separated from the numbers (oriented
vertically)

In 2008, 50 swans were implanted with satellite transmitters, many of which are still functioning. Birds with transmitters were not collared, but have a black antenna exiting near the base of the tail. The movements of these swans can be followed at our web site: http://alaska.usgs.gov/science/biology/avian_influenza/TUSW/index.html

 PLEASE REPORT ANY OBSERVATIONS TO the USGS Bird Banding Lab ) to the Trumpeter Watch program of TTSS trumpeterwatch@trumpeterswansociety.org or direct to biologist
Craig Ely
Alaska Science Center
4210 University Drive Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7182
EM: cely@usgs.gov

This Alaska office, as well as the Bird Banding Lab WILL PROVIDE ALL OBSERVERS WITH A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BANDED SWAN THEY OBSERVED. Those reported to TTSS will be forwarded to the BBL and to Craig. Thank you!

Photo: Martha Jordan

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Agency Decision Threatens Trumpeter Swans in Idaho

November 23, 2010
Snow Geese by Greg Smith

Snow Geese Landing photo: Greg Smith

A recent decision by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to expand a late winter Snow Goose hunt in southeast Idaho would jeopardize Trumpeter Swan use of important prebreeding habitat near Fort Hall at the north end of American Falls Reservoir. TTSS is asking IDFG and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to reverse this decision and protect Trumpeter Swans in this area. 

TTSS is not “antihunting.”  Several TTSS staff and Board members have been long-term managers of waterfowl hunts during their careers and TTSS is not opposed to well-managed waterfowl hunting. However, the design of this hunt is flawed. It would jeopardize important Trumpeter Swan habitat-use patterns that took many years, great effort, and great expense to create.

Beginning in 1988, the USFWS, the Pacific Flyway Council, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Idaho, several other western states, and TTSS undertook a massive effort to disperse wintering Trumpeter Swans from high elevation areas of Harriman State Park, Idaho, and Red Rock Lakes NWR (RRLNWR), Montana.  The goal was to encourage migrations southward to milder wintering sites where swans would gain access to winter and early spring food sources. 

Agencies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the new migration to Fort Hall to help increase population security.  Winter translocations involved nighttime capture on icy waters, often at near-zero temperatures, with great risk to those who braved those dangerous conditions.

The American Falls/Fort Hall wintering area is the biggest success of the range expansion effort, with over 500 Trumpeters present in recent winters.  Swans have gradually learned to field feed in areas north and west of the reservoir in late winter.  Late-winter nutrition is key to nesting success and managers are struggling to protect and enhance these crucial prebreeding habitats. The proposed hunt expansion would open the most important swan prebreeding habitats to Snow Goose hunting from February 19 to March 10, when these areas normally receive heavy swan use.

TTSS will ask IDFG to reverse the hunt expansion and maintain at least the same secure areas provided by the 2010 hunt boundary.  We also ask that IDFG closely monitor the distribution of swans and geese in the American Falls area during the hunt and take immediate measures to prevent hunter activity from displacing swans from their normal feeding areas if problems arise.

 We’ll keep you posted on this important issue on our website www.trumpeterswansociety.org

The Trumpeter Swan Society Photo-of-the-Month November 2010

November 11, 2010

Trumpeter Swan by John VanOrman

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

John’s photograph shows well balanced lighting between the light-colored snow and swan and the black bill and feet.  It is almost easier to photograph the swan on a white background as opposed to a medium or dark background given the issues surrounding contrast.  John was able to define feathers and snow patterns while still showing definition on both the right foot of the bird and the bill.  Superb lighting!

Histograms help analyze the lighting of a photograph and are helpful in assessing the light on a photograph. Check out this definition of a histogram.

A histogram is a graph counting the pixels at each level between black and white.  Black is on the left, while white is to the right.  The height of the graph at each point depends on the brightness of the pixels.  Lighter images move the graph to the right, while darker ones move it to the left.

While histograms are an analytical tool to help assess the lighting, the final decision on a photograph should be from the photographer’s visual perspective.

And with a light-colored subject and background John was able to shoot with an aperture setting that provided a great depth of field.  Look at primaries nine and ten (primary feathers are counted from the inside out to the end of the wing)) on both wings and you will see the same level of focus on both.  Given the crisp focus on the eye (which should just about always be the sharpest aspect of the photograph), and the definition on the primaries, John created a well balanced and lighted photograph of this Trumpeter Swan with out-stretched wings!

Featured Photographer for November, 2010 –  John VanOrman, Michigan

John B. VanOrman graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Science Degree in biology and from Western Michigan University with a Master’s Degree in ecology. During his studies at Western he studied bird populations along the Lake Michigan shoreline. John has taught biology for 35 years.  John believes that photography can be a useful tool for developing a sense of stewardship in individuals.

We are pleased that John was willing to share this outstanding shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society. To see more of his photos, please visit web page at

www.vanormanphotography.photoshelter.com