Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Department of Natural Resources’

The Trumpeter Swan Society November 2011 Photograph of the Month

November 12, 2011

Trumpeter Swan 7H2 Family by David Hoffman

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

David’s image of this Trumpeter Swan family (and the cob with an easily identifiable neck collar band) brings up a challenge all photographers face, do you do post-processing and if so, how much?

This is a wonderful shot!   The pool of water holds the family together, as the pen and cob create “bookends” of protection for the cygnets.  The consistency of the green vegetated background just adds to the formation of the “family” setting.  It appears it was an overcast day as there are no hard shadows and that adds to the fine detail in bird’s feathers.

Given the shape and size of pixels (as opposed to film grain), there is one step in post processing that should be considered, and that is a slight sharpening of the focus of the photo.  It is just an intrinsic part of digital photography.  Beyond that, altering the photograph with additional processing is up to the photographer.

One individual might want to remove the grass seed stalk in front of the cygnets so there is no distraction, while another views the stalk with no inherent thought of distraction.  Still another photographer might want to remove the neck collar band to lend a more natural setting to the cob.  All of these can be achieved by using post-processing software (Adobe Photoshop or Elements, ArcSoft Photo Studio, Apple iLife etc.)

But in the end it is the photographer’s decision and for this photograph David said: “I would kind of prefer to have swan 7H2 with collar showing, mainly to encourage people to report marked swans and promote TTSS Trumpeter watch.”

And with every photo there is always the story of the photographer, and as David explains below, he had a very personal involvement with one of the adult birds.  And it is that involvement that gives it a personal touch and a story to share beyond the photograph.

Featured Photographer for October, 2011 – David Hoffman, State of Iowa

David Hoffman is a wildlife research technician with the Iowa DNR.  He has been involved with the Iowa DNR’s Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program since 1995.

David had provided this link to report any Trumpeter Swan sightings in the State of Iowa.

About the Photo:

From David: “Trumpeter 7H2 is male hatched at Steve Nelson’s farm pond near Cherokee, IA in June 2004.  His mother died shortly after his hatch.  I cared for 7H2 and his siblings at my house for ~a week in 2004.  Del Huebner of Clinton, IA cared for him till Sept. 2004.  He spent the winter of 2004 at Laurie & Tony Severe’s Pond near Nora Springs, IA. and flew from their pond the following summer.

The female is originally out of THE LIVINGSTON RIPLEY 
WATERFOWL SANCTUARY (Litchfield CT) and she was hatched in ~1984.  She nested from 1994-2003 at Von Maur Clothing Corp. office in Davenport.  She also nested at the Lemke Funeral Home pond at Clinton, IA.  She has only hatched successfully ~3 times since 1994, no more than 2-3 cygnets at one time.

This pair is the first wild nesting pair in Winneshiek County Iowa since the late 1880’s!!!  I heard the news that this pair had hatched cygnets. I stopped by to visit with the landowner (Langreck) and answer any questions about the Trumpeters and their care.  I had my camera with, and was able to snap a few quick shots.

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

The Trumpeter Swan Society August 2011 Photograph of the Month

July 25, 2011

Kip Ladage's Trumpeter Swan close-up.

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

Kip’s image of the Trumpeter Swan photographed with his wife’s point and shoot Nikon just shows that knowledge of your subject, and enhanced photographic skills are so important when creating an outstanding photograph.  This is not to say that point and shoot cameras are less capable of creating excellent quality photographs.  On the contrary, the quality and capabilities of the latest models are getting so good that in my discussions with some photographers, there is a small movement migrating away from the DSLR’s and their large lenses to the point and shoot.  More on that in the future…

As in the past, I have talked about the challenge of lighting on a white subject that has black features.  Kip did an excellent job of capturing the finest of detail in the feathers, which the black background only enhanced.  And with a light-colored subject, that also allowed Kip to increase the depth of field.

Another very nice quality of the photograph is that it is not the entire bird.  The focal point of the bird is the head and the eye and with that being the case, just look at how the neck, wings and feathers pull the viewer’s perspective to that point.  If the photograph included the entire bird or had a cluttered background, there would be a less focused feeling towards the focal point.  All of this points to Kip’s capabilities to creat an outstanding photograph on the spur of the moment!

Featured Photographer for August, 2011 – Kip Ladage, Tripoli, Iowa

Kip Ladage is self-taught nature photographer and writer residing in Tripoli, Iowa.  His photos and writings have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, posters, calendars, web sites, and television at the local, state, and national levels.  His images have also been used in books, magazines, and web sites in the United Kingdom and Canada.

Kip has presented numerous nature photography programs and workshops to people of all ages–from Kindergarten students to college classes, adult organizations, and residents of long-term care facilities.

When not pursuing wildlife images, Kip Ladage enjoys backpacking, hiking, paddling his kayak, and riding his motorcycle.

For more information, visit Ladage Photography on the web at:

Contact Kip Ladage via e-mail at:

About the Photo:

The fact that this trumpeter swan image even exists is based a bit on preplanning, good timing, ideal positioning, and much good luck.

My wife and I were visiting the Iowa DNR booth at the Iowa State Fair.  Outside of their booth is a small pond where injured and rehab waterfowl are on display for the public to enjoy.  Included in the display were two trumpeter swans.  I seldom travel anywhere without a camera of some sort.  On this day we were carrying my wife’s point and shoot camera.  I left my DSLR home since it is heavy and, after all, what is the likelihood of finding a nature photo subject in a sea of people at the state fair!

While Kristy and I were watching the ducks and swans, this particular swan floated near us.  I noticed it approaching and began tracking the beautiful bird with the camera as it approached.  Just as the bird moved directly in front of us, it turned its head back and for a split second adjusted its feathers.  During that brief moment in time I captured just this one image of the bird.  Under normal conditions I would have been very frustrated that my wife’s camera was so slow, allowing only one image file to be created.  However, in this case, the camera captured the special moment perfectly.  Who could ask for anything more?

Image details: Nikon P100, no cropping, image shown full frame.

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

Collared Trumpeter Swan Reports Reveal Stories

April 5, 2010

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. 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!

Iowa Releases Trumpeter Swans Third Year at Holla Bend NWR

February 11, 2010

Iowa Swans in Release Pen Await Journey to Arkansas

Ron Andrews coordinates Iowa’s Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program. He also serves on The Trumpeter Swan Society’s  Board of Directors. With characteristic enthusiasm, on February 10th, Andrews led a parade of cars from the Visitor’s Center at Arkansas’ Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge (HBNWR) to a release site near the Arkansas River on the refuge. He looked pretty fresh, considering he and Dave Hoffman, DNR Wildlife Technician, had chauffeured a rowdy crowd of 1st-year Trumpeters down the Interstate Highways the previous day from Iowa. Sixteen teenagers of any sort exude energy – can you imagine the trumpeting on this parade?

Sixteen Trumpeter Swans met 16 citizens willing to help with this third release of Trumpeters as part of a migration experiment. Joe Neal reports he arrived to snow on the ground, and forgetting his coat, had to stuff a blanket under his shirt. When Karen Rowe of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission handed him a 25-pound Trumpeter, he welcomed the pleasant warmth. He describes it this way:  “You first must hold their feet tightly – web feet the size of my hands. You firmly hug ‘em to keep that 8-foot wing span closed. Then there is the famous trumpet, a very, very long neck with an anxious, intelligent dark-eyed creature winding it around your neck, over your head, serpent-like, watching all, honking and hissing, way, way ready for release. Even standing in the snow and coatless, I was quite warm and fully employed hanging on to my swan!”

Biologists hope that these young swans got their compass bearings while in Iowa.  Now released in Arkansas’ milder winter terrain, it is hoped they will imprint on this area as well, before spring restlessness leads them off to wing their way north. We hope these members of a growing Interior Population of Trumpeters will establish a migration between Iowa and Arkansas. 

Many Trumpeter Swans have no experience migrating.  Knowledge of routes, potential safe resting areas along the way and wintering areas are learned from parents.  Restoration flocks don’t have this traditional information.  Managers hope this experiment will result in new migration traditions.  Andrews feels that Iowa’s population is on the verge of being self-sustaining, citing 40 nesting pair in 2009!  The potential option of wintering in Arkansas helps secure their future.

Swan fans get ready! First-year birds have distinctive dark gray heads. We hope that anyone in states near or south of the 40th parallel will report sightings of these birds when they move. For 2 years, they have been released at HBNWR and on the Buffalo National River; this year there was just one release on the refuge.  A total of 51 Trumpeter Swans have been released over the 3 years.  All have been marked with green collars with a three-character code that can be used to identify an individual.  All have corresponding leg bands as well as standard USGS metal leg bands.  Anyone who sees one of the green-collared birds is encouraged to read the numbers and letter on the collar or band and report it on The Trumpeter Swan Society website

More observations are needed to know if reverse migration will succeed.  It’s an exciting time and you can be part of it by registering to be an observer through TRUMPETER WATCH.

 Photo: Iowa Department of Natural Resources