Archive for April, 2012

New Video Highlights the Strong Relationship Between Trumpeter Swans and Dairy Farms in Washington State

April 29, 2012

Trumpeter Swans Feed on Field Corn at one Washington State's Dairy Farms
Photo by Art Wolfe

Writer and naturalist Jenn Dean of Washington’s Snoqualmie Valley has produced a five-minute video that will bring current issues of Trumpeter Swans wintering in western Washington to the forefront. With engaging footage of both Trumpeter Swans and dairy cows, she points to their direct relationship. Martha Jordan, former TTSS Board member and current Chair of the Washington Swan Stewards, estimates as many as 85% of Trumpeters in Washington are currently dairy dependent. They thrive on waste corn.  Jenn interviews dairy farmer Andy Werkhoven, who with his brother Jim, has been in the dairy business, farming, for thirty years.  He details the increase of sightings over the last ten years, a period in which Pacific Coast Population numbers have climbed. Washington may now host some 27,000 Trumpeters in winter, so their future is integrally tied to the future of rural land and dairy farms. While death from ingestion of lead pellets has claimed some 2300 Trumpeters over the last decade, Martha Jordan feels that loss of habitat is an equal threat to future swan populations.  Watch Jenn Dean’s video for further detail.  TTSS thanks Jenn Dean for her work in making this video to help the public understand issues that face swans, and The Trumpeter Swan Society’s role in assuring their present and future security.

Washington Swan Stewards Swan Rescue Response Team, An Update from the Field

April 25, 2012

Washington Swan Stewards Response Team Captures M35

Spring has arrived in the Pacific Northwest.  The swans were about a week late in leaving this year and as of early April; a few were still hanging around.

In early April, Martha Jordan, former TTSS Board of Directors and current Chair, Washington Swan Stewards, noticed a pair of swans hanging around a chain of ponds at a well-known dog retriever training area east of Redmond, WA.  Two weeks later there was only one swan in the back pond of the property, a clear sign something was wrong. A quick view with her scope revealed this swan had a damaged wing and could not fly.  Martha and her colleagues mounted a rescue effort the following day.

It proved to be a major operation. Due to the topography of the area and the determination of this swan to remain free, it took seven people and two boats to capture the swan.  Martha tells us, “Mostly we stood on shore to keep the bird in the water, and then the people in the power boat were able to net the swan.  The swan is currently at a rehabilitation facility being evaluated and treated.  If all goes well, the bird will have surgery that will allow the swan to live a quality life in captivity.”

TTSS thanks Puget Sound Energy’s Mel Walters and two staff members, and volunteers from the local retriever hunting community who assisted us in making the capture go smoothly and quickly.

To make these captures possible it takes people and equipment. Although they have a portable Zodiac inflatable, this response team still needs other equipment including additional capture nets, another swan hook, and a car top boat such as an Aqua pod.  You can help support the Washington Swan Steward’s swan rescue response efforts with a donation to TTSS for the Washington Swan Steward’s Swan Rescue Fund.  Donations can be mailed to our main office in Minnesota (12615 County Road 9, Plymouth, MN 55441) or made online at www.trumpeterswansociety.org.

A mid-April Addendum from Martha Jordan

In May, 2011, TTSS and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released two captive reared Trumpeter Swan yearlings, M35 and M36 into the wild.  It was an experiment to see if Trumpeter Swans could live in an urban setting with lots of lakes and homes. Problems occurred when one of the swans began regularly showing aggression to humans, so ahead of the breeding season almost a year later, WDFW and TTSS decided that the two swans must be caught and returned to captivity both for human safety as well as their own. 

 Thus began the Washington Swan Stewards attempts to catch these free spirited, free flying youngsters.  The person who had been watching over them and feeding them all year was very helpful since M36 came up to him on a regular basis.  Martha says, “We lured the swan up onto the lawn using decoys. While M36 was busy posturing in a turf battle with the decoys I netted him. M35 proved to be more elusive since he did not keep a regular schedule and was now hanging out on Long Lake, about 1 mile away.  I recruited some great volunteers from the local area who had helped last year with the release and who had experience with Mute Swan captures.  Russ McMillan and Chris Maynard took their small boat over to Long Lake to look for the swan.  Just after I left them at the boat launch they called to tell me that M35 was standing on the launch area about 5 feet from them.  I suggested that if they could get the swan within a foot of them they could likely attempt a hand capture.  What happened next was creative thinking at its best.  When I arrived back at the boat launch I found Chris lying on the ground holding the swan with a white blanket covering its head.  The photo says it all for how this went down: Russ under blanket, Chris behind.  They lured the swan about 10 more feet up the boat launch where Chris lay on the ground. Russ wiggling under the blanket got M35 to come up to him out of curiosity.  Chris rolled up and put his arms around the swan. Capture accomplished.”

Both swans are now safely in captivity. They will be placed in captive breeding programs where their new mates await them.  The Washington Swan Stewards thank WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Michelle Tihri for all her time and assistance, and all those that volunteered, Russ McMillan, Chris Maynard, Paul Fischbach and avian veterinarian Scott Ford.  A special thank you to Larry James for the year he spent making sure the boys were looked after during their wild year.

 

 

Remembering Harold H. Burgess, Trumpeter Swan Society Past President and Board of Directors

April 16, 2012

Last month, members, Board members and staff of The Trumpeter Swan Society were saddened to hear of the death of Harold Burgess.  Harold served on the Society’s Board of Directors and as President of TTSS for two terms. He was recently honored by the Society as one of the first recipients of the TTSS George Melendez Wright Trumpeter Swan Conservation Award.  A copy of his obituary follows:

Harold H, Burgess

Harold H. Burgess died Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Weslaco, TX, at age 94.  He was born in 1917 at Cedardale, Michigan.  Survivors include his children Thomas, Mary and Barbara, son-in-law Terry, grandchildren David, Hannah, and Betsy, granddaughter-in-law Crystal.  His wife Ruth; his parents Guy and Mary; his brothers Henry, Fred, Robert, Eugene, and James precede him in death.

After graduation from Deckerville High School, Harold served with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Upper Michigan.  He graduated from Michigan State College with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry.  In 1942, he became a superintendent at Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia, West Africa.  While traveling through the Liberian hinterland, he met his future wife, Ruth Longstaff, at Ganta Mission.

Returning to Michigan State College, he finished his Masters in Zoology.  After enlisting in the 8th Army Engineers, he married Ruth in December 1947 and served as a forestry adviser in Korea and later as an agriculture adviser in Japan.

In 1950 he began 30 years with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, managing four National Wildlife Refuges of the Missouri-Mississippi watershed in succession, completing his career at the Area Office in North Kansas City, Missouri.  For a second 30 years after retirement, he volunteered at various nature sanctuaries, wildlife refuges, and state parks.  Those in Texas included Laguna Atascosa NWR, Lower Rio Grande NWR, Santa Ana NWR, Valley Nature Center, and Estero Llano Grande State Park.  He also took part in the Texas Breeding Bird Atlas, Elder Hostel programs, as well as both the Frontera and the Rio Grande Valley Audubon Societies.  Harold received The Valley Nature Center’s “Outstanding Naturalist Award” for 2002.

Though interested in all birds, Harold considered himself an avian ecologist rather than an ornithologist.  After initial work with pheasants in Michigan, his career with the US Fish and Wildlife Service allowed projects improving the habitat of specific waterfowl at various National Wildlife Refuges.  At Upper Mississippi  (WI) he worked with Wood Ducks; at Union Slough ( IA), Blue-Winged Teal; at Squaw Creek (MO), Snow Geese and Canada Geese; and at Lacreek (SD), Trumpeter Swans.  Even in retirement on the Lower Rio Grande, he added another specialty:  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

However, Harold had found his passion to be with Trumpeter Swans.  Trumpeters had nearly gone extinct in the 48 states by the 1930s.  The ensuing work of the Fish and Wildlife Service in preserving this nesting population, was extended by The Trumpeter Swan Society, whose mission is to restore the species to its previously existing breeding and migration ranges.  After retirement in 1980 he volunteered with The Trumpeter Swan Society, serving on the board of directors and two terms as president.

In lieu of flowers, friends are invited to consider making a donation to or becoming members of The Trumpeter Swan Society.  http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org   The family will appreciate cards and reminiscences from Harold’s many friends.  A memorial is planned later this spring and is open to the public.  It will take place June 16, 2012, at 2 PM at The Valley Nature Center, 301 S. Border Ave, Weslaco, (956) 969-2475.

The Trumpeter Swan Society April 2012 Photograph of the Month

April 11, 2012

Trumpeter Swan Flight Into Fall Color© by Mark Paulson

NEW FEATURE ADDED TO PHOTO-OF-THE-MONTHSEE BELOW!!!

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

Mark’s image of the pair of Trumpeter Swans flying in front of the fall color shows a “planned” opportunity to share two very different subjects with the intent of highlighting the swans in the foreground.

Mark focused his camera on the swans, which was the planned highlight in the photo.  Each bird is in detailed focus including the eyes, wings and feet.

When you look at the background of exceedingly bright-colored foliage, it is muted.  This soft focus on the trees allows their color to come through and highlight the swans without the distraction of other objects stealing the focus.

The composition of the birds on the left side of the photo is a slightly different interpretation of the rule of thirds.  It is usually more appealing to the viewer to have the subject in either the left or right third of the photograph as opposed to the center.  In fact Mark’s swan’s heads are dead center in the photograph, which would appear to refute the rule.  But it is body of the swans that makes the rule of thirds work.  The head and neck of both birds are such a small component of the photograph, and this creates the effect with the bird’s bodies fitting the rule of thirds!

All of the above can happen with the focal length of the lens, but Mark saw the opportunity to put himself in a position to the have swans in the foreground and those trees in the background.  And it worked with exceptional results!

The Life History Moment

Waterfowl (including swans), cormorants, cranes and some shorebirds (and there may be other long distance diurnal migrants) utilize flight technics that essentially minimize impacts to the individual and spread the physical outlay to the other(s) in the flight.  With Mark’s pair of swans we do not see them flying side-by-side or one directly in front of the other.  We see the second bird behind and to the side of the lead bird.  This helps in two ways: First they are minimizing any potential accidental contact while flying (this would certainly help in trying to escape a predator!).  And second, the lead bird is “cutting” a hole in the wall of the air they are flying through.

In other words, like automobile racing, the second car does not have to expend as much fuel as the lead car does to achieve the same speed.  Of course they are built just a bit different than those cars, and it is because of the wings that they fly behind, but off to the side.  When that lead birds tires a little, the second bird will head to the front and the lead bird than reduces the amount of energy it utilizes (aka taking a breather).

Featured Photographer for February, 2012 – Mark Paulson, State of Minnesota

From Mark:

“My current focus is on capturing perspectives of the natural world, concentrating on images of nature, wildlife and travel (the world). The experience of getting to and capturing the beauty of nature and the wildlife is a large part of my personal experience in photographing their imagery. Actually making the photograph to capture the scene, so it can be shared with others, is the other component I enjoy. I work to find the unique or different perspective when making photographs, giving the viewers a sense of the place that I experienced when making the images.”

Mark is a long time resident of the Lake Minnetonka area of Minnesota and has been taking photographs since the mid-1980s. Mark has taken several award-winning photographs and his work has been published in books and regional magazines and exhibited in local galleries. Mark has traveled extensively to numerous locations in the United States as well as many international destinations including: China, Egypt, Southern Africa, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Fiji, Greece, Argentina, Japan, throughout Western Europe, various islands in the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, etc. and has an extensive portfolio of photographs from these locales.

You can find Mark’s images at

http://www.mpaulsonphotography.com

About the Photo:

From Mark: “This image of the Trumpeter Swan pair was taken at Baker Park in Minnesota, (location of TTSS headquarters). There is a small pond in the park where Trumpeter Swans gather. I try to get images of the swans in flight, and especially during autumn, when the surrounding trees provide a colorful background to highlight the white swans. “

We are pleased that Mark was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society.