Posts Tagged ‘Jess Lee’

The Trumpeter Swan Society Receives Major Grant from the Yellowstone to Yukon Consevation Initiative for Work in Montana’s Centennial Valley

May 26, 2012

Trumpeters in Centennial Valley by Jess Lee

The Trumpeter Swan Society is most grateful to the (Y2Y) Partner Grants Program for supporting our efforts to protect to swan habitat in Montana’s Centennial Valley.  Y2Y recently announced their grant of $4,500 to support our Centennial Valley Cooperative Wetland Conservation Project. The Centennial Valley, including Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, contains the single-most important nesting and molting habitat for Greater Yellowstone’s fragile Trumpeter Swan nesting flock.

Preventing damage to these habitats and where possible improving their quality is a top priority for TTSS.  Some of these wetlands also provide important habitat for Grayling, which might be listed as threatened or endangered in the near future.  Without great care, there is potential for some actions that would benefit Grayling to damage important swan habitats. In addition, at some sites water delivery problems and increasing human disturbance jeopardize swan nesting success.

Working closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, State of Montana, and other conservation partners, we will be working to develop a model program to minimize damage to swan habitat from fish conservation efforts and seek ways to improve swan habitat where possible. We will also be working with private landowners and public land managers to improve water levels and reduce disturbance of swans in historic habitats.

Trumpeter Pair in the Centennial Valley by Jess Lee

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) Looking for Reports of Trumpeter Swans

August 23, 2011
Trumpeter Swans by Jess Lee

(Text as published in the Arkansas Outdoors Weekly Newsletter, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission)

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is asking the public to help with a project by reporting trumpeter swans “summering” in Arkansas.

As part of the Mississippi Flyway Council’s Trumpeter Swan Migration Experiment, 49 trumpeter swans were released in Arkansas during the winters of 2008, 2009 and 2010. This experiment attempts to re-establish historic swan winter migrations south into Arkansas and other southern states from the swans breeding areas in northern states.

Karen Rowe, the AGFC’s Bird Conservation Coordinator, said she is pleased that the majority of the released swans have returned north during the breeding season and many of them have returned to winter in Arkansas. “We have found that a number of our released swans have stayed in Arkansas during the summer and we want to identify and track these birds. We are interested in gathering information on these “summering” swans in order to evaluate the progress of this experiment and track the habitat preferences of these birds,” she explained.

AGFC is asking the public to report sightings of summer swans and when possible, include the collar color and alpha-numeric code on the swan collars. Each of the translocated swans is fitted with a neck collar that bears a unique letter-number code. Rowe says binoculars or a spotting scope are often needed to read the neck collar identification code. “Reports that contain the collar letter and number are extremely valuable because they enable us to track a particular swan, not just across Arkansas, but throughout its journey up and down the Mississippi Flyway. We really appreciate the observers’ efforts to obtain these important but difficult to read neck collar I.Ds.”

Observers should note the exact location of the swan, using a GPS when possible, and report the location, the collar color and alpha numeric code to Rowe at or by using the link to the AGFC survey form at Observers without internet access can report their sightings by calling toll free 877-873-4651.

Before European settlement, the breeding range for trumpeter swans encompassed over half of North America, including the northern portion of Arkansas. Commercial harvest of the birds for feathers, skins and meat extirpated trumpeter swans from almost all of North America by the late 1800s.

Reintroduction efforts have restored trumpeter swans to portions of their former breeding range. Today, approximately 5,000 trumpeter swans live in the Midwest area of the United States. Trumpeter swans may form pair bonds as early as their second summer, but typically do not breed until they are 4-7 years old. Trumpeters migrate in family groups and prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation.

Trumpeter swans are the largest birds native to North America. Adult males measure 57 to 64 inches long and weigh around 25 pounds. Adult females range from 55 to 60 inches and weigh approximately 20 pounds. Their wingspans can approach 8 feet, and they fly with their extremely long necks outstretched.

The Trumpeter Swan Society March 2011 Photograph of the Month

March 11, 2011

Jess Lee's Trumpeter Swans

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

Jess’ photograph of the Trumpeter Swan family is one of those photos where your eye is drawn to the central bird with open wings and then your eye relaxes and takes in the other three birds.

There is a simplicity to the birds being centered in the photograph, but complexity develops with the three birds at rest and preening along with the upright adult in the background.  The cygnets blend into the darkness of the water, but are plainly visible as you search for details.  And though the remaining bright adult could easily pull the eye away from everything else, it is the upright adult that steals the show.

I like the crisp detail of the flight feathers and the shadow of the neck on the wing.  The rippled water and very light mist softens the dark background and releases any potential contrast issue with the water and the birds.

Jess uses his behavioral knowledge of the swans and his photographic expertise to create a unique photograph of a situation that could very easily be another swan “family shot”.

Featured Photographer for March, 2011 – Jess Lee, Island Park, Idaho

“Jess Lee’s home and business is located a short distance from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  He has been living, photographing, guiding and instructing in the Yellowstone eco-system for over 30 years.”  While this is a great nature, wildlife and travel destination, Jess finds time to spend over 200 days in the field adding to his large stock file.

Jess has been very generous in sharing his outstanding Trumpeter Swan photographs with the Society (See another great photo in the November, 2009 blog “Photo of the Month”).   And if you want to learn more on how Jess captures these images, check out his web page and learn so much more.

And while you are on his web page, check out Jess’ series of workshops.  He travels to different parts of North America and the world sharing his photographic knowledge.

We are pleased that Jess was willing to share this “keeper” shot in support of Trumpeter Swans and The Trumpeter Swan Society. Find more of his images at


December 18, 2009


This month’s photo is a special one, just an amazing image from an extensive collection of Trumpeter Swan shots by professional Jess Lee of JessLeePhotos. Based on the Idaho side of the Yellowstone Ecosystem, Jess travels around the world. Trumpeter Swans are a favorite subject.

Professional Photographer and TTSS Photo-of the-Month host Greg Smith says:
Jess Lee’s photo of a Trumpeter Swan with the ridge of ice and snow behind it evokes a truly wild feeling. It is cold and remote, yet there is the swan flight moving easily through the air. The back lighting is outstanding as seen through the feathers. A photographer’s challenges to create a stunning photograph in this all white setting are daunting. Jess was able to balance the snow and the dorsal side of the bird in the sun with the shadowed snow and the underside of the swan. Quite an accomplishment, but then there are the black facial features to contend with. Jess captured those features too with equally balanced lighting! Finally, look at the depth of field with the face and the primaries on the back wing, not unexpected given the lighting. When you combine the subject matter, setting, depth of field with the lighting you get an outstanding artistic photograph of a superb subject

In support of The Trumpeter Swan Society’s 5-year Greater Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan Initiative, Jess Lee has generously donated this image as a LIMITED EDITION PRINT to TTSS. There will be 300 signed and numbered copies for us to offer to members and fans. All the income from sales, except a small amount for production and shipping, will go to support TTSS’ 5-year Greater Yellowstone Trumpeter Swan Initiative.

Today’s breeding population in Yellowstone is in serious decline. Peg Abbott, TTSS Blog host asked Jess Lee about this; here is a portion of his passionate reply:

“Like I said, I think that as conservationist and wildlife advocates we have done a decent job of protecting and restoring large mammals such as Grizzlies and Wolves. While doing this we have allowed other grand creatures such as the Yellowstone Trumpeter swans to slip toward extinction from their traditional core range. As a photographer who has observed and wondered at the grace and beauty of these charismatic birds for over three decades, I find the increasing emptiness of Trumpeter Swans from their traditional breeding grounds in Island Park, Centennial Valley and Yellowstone as a real loss.

I find it very interesting to read, that during the early days of WW2 when our nation was at great peril, a critical military installation near Henry’s Lake was halted for the fear it would disrupt the swan habitat in Island Park and Red Rocks. Today, when we feel that we have an enlightened view of wildlife conservation, Island Park abounds with summer homes and the management plans at Red Rock Lakes had to be revised to include security for Trumpeter Swans. We need to act to see that their population decline is halted.”

YOU CAN ACT! Order a LIMITED EDITION of Jess Lee’s amazing image, and know that you’ve done something significant to help Trumpeter Swans. This print will make a great holiday gift as well. It is a wonderful way to give a beautiful gift, while putting your dollars to work to benefit the swans.

Order your Limited Edition 12 x 18 print today! The cost is $235, which includes shipping and handling. Shop online with secure credit card payment, email us at or FAX your order in to 763-557-4943 today!