Posts Tagged ‘Report Sightings’

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

August 23, 2011
Trumpeter Swans by Jess Lee http://www.jessleephotos.com

(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 krowe@agfc.state.ar.us or by using the link to the AGFC survey form at http://www.agfc.com/species/Pages/TrumpeterSwanRestoration.aspx. 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.

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TRUMPETER WATCH: THE SECOND SEASON

October 25, 2010
Trumpeter Pair by Jess Lee

Trumpeter Pair by Jess Lee

Trumpeter Watch is starting its second winter season and we ask observers to report Trumpeter Swan sightings, particularly in states south of the 40th parallel. Based on last year’s numbers in southern states, the winter 2010/2011 should be an exciting one – particularly if we can expand participation in sightings. We urge you to check your lake, wetland and grain field areas soon! For instance, both Kansas and Missouri have had a few October records along with a number of November sightings, and we’ve seen birds moving into Oklahoma mid-November, coming in good number by late December. We are interested in these arrival dates and in the pattern of use throughout the winter.

This year, we hope to make reporting easier for observers by partnering with “eBird,” the popular data reporting program of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, in conjunction with the Avian Knowledge Network. Their system is easy to learn, and once you’ve set up a free account with password, you can report sightings, browse through data, and take a look at your state or province for current and historical data. Your sightings will be part of a global database available to biologists, wildlife managers, teachers, and birders.

The “eBird” program has revolutionized the way that the birding community accesses and reports information since its start-up in 2002. It is designed to record basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales – just the type of information we are looking for as we monitor Trumpeter Swan populations over a large geographic area.

One of the best things about “eBird” is the immediate ability of the program to show data with dynamic maps and bar charts that detail relative abundance over time. Last winter, we kept in-house maps to chart the bird’s activities, but had no way to share them efficiently with you. In partnering with “eBird,” your sighting will appear as a dot on a Google Map, one that you can zoom in or out to look at an individual county, a state, or up to a five-state area.

Both recreational and professional observers contribute sightings to “eBird.” Each state has knowledgeable coordinators that review sightings, using a set of filters to check for data accuracy if a species is rare or of particular interest. TTSS will be able to work with these coordinators and to access comments included with the observation as to age, flock size, and other statistics.

Trumpeter Watch observers are welcome to continue to send in sightings by mail or by email as per our instructions on the website http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org, attn. Peg Abbott, Outreach Coordinator, if you prefer. Peg will forward these records on to eBird as we complete data analysis.

We report Trumpeter Watch progress in our ENEWS and on Facebook, so if you have not yet signed up for these, log on to website and request the free ENEWS, and choose to be a FAN of TTSS on Facebook. If you do not have a computer and wish us to send copy by mail, please request that we do so.