Posts Tagged ‘Trumpeter Watch’

Trumpeter Watch, a Citizen Science Project of The Trumpeter Swan Society kicks off Third Winter Season

November 2, 2011

See Our Preliminary Results Online Photo: Peg Abbott

Trumpeter Watch, a Citizen Science program of The Trumpeter Swan Society, encourages observers to help the Society document the changing distribution of wintering Trumpeter Swans in states south of the 40th parallel.

In recent decades wild nesting populations of Trumpeter Swans have been successfully restored across the Interior northern states and Ontario. As populations grow, we see evidence that more and more swans are pioneering southward to areas where they may establish more southerly wintering sites.  Little is known about these southward moving swans; the duration that they use various sites, the location and characteristic of prime feeding and resting areas, or what problems they may be encountering.  Observers are needed primarily in states south of the 40th parallel, during the winter season, to help chart trends in this new winter distribution.  You can help!

The largest wintering concentrations south of the 40th parallel to date occur in and around Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in the state of Missouri (along with adjacent southern Illinois) close to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  At the peak of winter, over 500 Trumpeters may be present.  Of note is that marked and collared Trumpeters from all the northern states have been sighted here, indicating a certain, but unknown degree of mixing.  

Observers have tallied Trumpeters in 41 of 114 counties in Missouri, two of which have recorded winter counts of swans over 100 in number.  A dozen additional sites note groups of 10 or more.  The Heber Springs area of Arkansas is an important wintering site, and observers throughout the southern states are asked to be especially vigilant looking for collared birds marked during an experimental winter release program conducted in cooperation between the Arkansas Game and Fish Department and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  Kansas birders have recorded Trumpeters in 57 of 105 counties, and Oklahoma observers note them in 17 of 77 counties. We expect the lists to grow.  Be the first to add your county!

We are compiling records throughout the southern states, and with increased participation, we are starting to look at winter distribution in the western states as well. You’ll find preliminary results of Trumpeter Watch, learn about tools of the trade, and find a chart you can download to help you find the origins of marked, collared, wing-tagged and banded Trumpeter Swans on our website. This is an exciting program that needs YOUR support!  We ask that you get involved with sightings, and that you make a donation – however large or small – to support our efforts, through membership or a direct project donation. All of our work is aimed at fulfilling our mission, to assure the security and vitality of wild Trumpeter Swans.


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, 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.

Trumpeter Watch – Ten Years of Christmas Bird Count Data

June 18, 2010
Trumpeter Swan Landing by John VanOrman
Trumpeter Swan Landing, photo by John VanOrman

Summer is here and we at The Trumpeter Swan Society working on Trumpeter Watch are reviewing data from our first winter season. We are looking at several sources of data, generated by Citizen Science, to better understand the pattern of winter use for expanding populations of Trumpeter Swans. If you took part in this past winter’s 110th Annual National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, you may have contributed. A summary of the data provides us in essence a snapshot of early winter distribution across states we are tracking south and adjacent to the 40th parallel. Archives of the Counts are readily available and their census over repeated years allows us took look at a relative measure.

Here is the snaphot we found. Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri had Trumpeter Swans in more than one Count circle for five or more of the last ten years. Surprisingly, eastern Colorado has as well. In 2003, a total of 10 Trumpeters were counted across the 18 states we tallied, found in 4 of the states. A surge of Trumpeters in Oklahoma brought the total to 40 one year later (28, found in 4 Count circles). From 2005 to 2007 that number actually varied and declined, and that total was only passed again in 2008, when 59 individuals were tallied over 5 states. Fifty-one of these Trumpeter sightings occurred in Missouri, mainly at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge that year. In 2009 wintering numbers took a giant leap, with a total of 403 tallied in the region. Missouri was the stronghold, recording 374 individuals in 8 Count circles, 337 Trumpeters in the Confluence Circle alone(Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area)! Kansas had numbers in the double digits for 2009 and 2010 as well (16 each year) quite a bit shy of the 600 recorded for Missouri in 2010.

At the start of this new decade there were more Trumpeter Swans wintering south of the 40th parallel than in states immediately north of (Nebraska), or having that line of latitude cross through (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania) combined with two states with restoration flocks we are tracking (Iowa and New York). All states should be on the alert. Florida, Kentucky and Texas have all had 1 count in the last decade with a recorded Trumpeter. New Mexico, Mississippi, and Virginia claim 2 Counts each in that period. Arkansas first recorded Trumpeters on a Count circle in 2007, a year ahead of their restoration release programs began. Still waiting for a first CBC record Trumpeter Swan are Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Who knows what 2011 may bring!


February 27, 2010

We’re very pleased we decided to pioneer Trumpeter Watch in this particular year. Despite lean times for nonprofits and no firm budget set aside for the project, we felt a sense of urgency. In this we were right on the mark.

Chuck Otte, Listserv (KSBIRDS-L) owner and upcoming author on bird distribution in Kansas describes what he calls an “inundation of Trumpeter sightings” since the first of the year. He notes six first county records for Kansas over the last two winters; two have occurred in the last few weeks. From Missouri, David Rogles reports record numbers (counts of over 500) of Trumpeters overwintering near West Alton at Riverlands. Another Missouri observer reported a collared bird (Red 8M5) for which Dave Hoffman (Iowa Department of Natural Resources) gave its history: this bird was born in 2007, spent the next 2 years in Iowa in two different counties, and then appeared near Vernon, Missouri, in 2010, with an unmarked partner.

Mary Bote has kept close tabs on Oklahoma where Trumpeters are showing up across the state, now reported from 11 separate geographic areas. Karen Rowe (Arkansas Fish and Game Commission) notes a lot of action in Arkansas, which she will be reporting to us in a summary at winter’s end. In Indiana, Ryan Sanderson reported a family of five swans in Clay County, four of them had collars traceable to Wisconsin. While the Memphis Zoo is proud to add captive Trumpeters to its new Yellowstone exhibit, birders are excited that wild Trumpeters appeared in recent weeks along the Tennessee-Arkansas border.

We’ve had reports of note from throughout the Trumpeter Watch area. A red-collared bird (6H5) reported by Joy Colbert of Cadiz in Trigg County, Kentucky, originated in Iowa. Some of you may remember the excitement caused by Trumpeters being tallied on a Virginia Christmas Bird Count last year. This year, three collared individuals were found in Virginia likely coming from two sources – Iowa and Wisconsin.

Out west, SeEtta Moss reported two adult Trumpeters near Canon City, Colorado in December. South of that, Narca Moore-Craig, artist and Business Member of TTSS, had us contact Cathie Sandall at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, New Mexico, who has since kept close tabs on a surviving juvenile, one of two observed there this winter.

What we are learning is that swans are pioneering into new areas and will need to be included in waterfowl management plans for these areas. As we receive and analyze more data, we expect more exciting discoveries.

Photo: Trumpeter Swans on Ice by Gretchen Steele

ANNOUNCING: Trumpeter Watch

November 2, 2009

A Citizen-Science Project to Monitor Winter Trumpeter Swan Distribution
YOU CAN HELP!! Nov 1, 2009 – May 1, 2010

Swans Dancing

Photo by Arnie Frederickson

Improving winter security is a TTSS strategic goal for Trumpeters coast to coast. This year, we plan to closely monitor Interior Population Trumpeter Swans. You can help! Join our network of volunteer observers to document the changing winter distribution of Trumpeter Swans in the following states: NE, KS, OK, TX, eastern NM & CO, MO, AR, IL, IN, KY, TN, LA, MS, AL, VA, MD, and DE (or any other Interior or Atlantic State where Trumpeter Swans are observed).

The task of restoring Interior Population Trumpeters has been highly successful but is not yet done. As northern breeding flocks expand, increasing numbers of Trumpeters are pioneering towards historic wintering areas south of the 40th parallel. Trumpeters are showing up in places they have not frequented for over 100 years. Little is known about the numbers of southward migrants, the habitats they use, or the conditions that they are encountering.

TTSS has launched Trumpeter Watch, a citizen science program to help track Trumpeters on the move as they explore and use new winter habitat. TTSS is reaching out to members and active birders to submit winter observations of Trumpeter Swans and the habitats that they are using.  Trumpeter Watch will serve as an effective information system into which observers can report sightings.

As of Nov. 1st, we have observers registered in five states, and our first sightings reports have been sent in by David Rogles of Missouri. He spotted 10 Trumpeters arriving at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA). Dave reports that numerous swans in the past have stopped here during migration and last winter they had 360 or more swans over-wintering. Thanks to David for being our first registered participant in Trumpeter Watch to report!

Summarized data from the winter sightings will be given to managers and presented on our website to help document the current winter distribution of Trumpeters as they move southward and identify potential over-wintering sites. It is our hope that details of current use patterns and the habitats used will help provide a solid foundation for management efforts to rebuild more secure winter distributions.

WHY IS YOUR HELP NEEDED?♦ By 1900, Trumpeter Swans were extirpated from nesting and wintering areas in Central and Eastern North America. Lost with the swans was their historic knowledge of migration routes and southern wintering sites. For Trumpeters, migration is mostly a behavior learned from experienced adults. Therefore, reestablishing traditional historic patterns is difficult.

♦ In recent decades, wild nesting populations of Trumpeters have been successfully restored in several northerly states and Ontario. Most swans now winter near their northern breeding areas, but an unknown number are pioneering southward and beginning to establish use of more southerly wintering sites.

♦ Little is known regarding the numbers and groupings of southward migrants, the location and characteristics of sites they are pioneering, duration of use, or problems they may be encountering.

♦ By providing information through Trumpeter Watch, observers can help document the changing distribution of wintering Trumpeter Swans and help identify potential new southerly wintering sites.

We ask you to REGISTER for Trumpeter Watch
You can do so online at Observers report any first observation of a Trumpeter Swan at a new location to us as soon as possible, using our Trumpeter Watch OBSERVATION FORM.   Regular watchers submit a summary of observations to us by the 10th of each month throughout the study period. We want to document key habitat information as well as details about the swans.