Swan on stamp in­spires in­for­ma­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NWA OUTDOORS -

An im­age of two trum­peter swans ris­ing from the cat­tails is the 2017 Ju­nior Duck Stamp.

Trum­peter swans were com­mon mi­grants in Arkansas 150 years ago. The swans were al­most elim­i­nated from the con­ti­nen­tal United States by 1900. Cap­tive breed­ing and re­lease pro­grams by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice and north­ern states such as Ohio, Michi­gan, Iowa, Wis­con­sin and Min­nesota, re­stored trum­peter swans to their breed­ing grounds.

How­ever, very few of the re­stored swans de­vel­oped the abil­ity to mi­grate south be­cause they lacked a par­ent swan ex­pe­ri­enced in mi­grat­ing to south­ern win­ter­ing grounds.

Very few records ex­ist of win­ter­ing trum­peter swans in Arkansas that spent more than just a few days in the state un­til 1991 when three swans were re­ported on Mag­ness Lake in Cle­burne County. No one knows how the swans made their ini­tial flight into Arkansas, but the birds had been marked and banded in Min­nesota and re­turned each year, gain­ing a fol­low­ing of de­voted wildlife watch­ers.

The flock re­turn­ing to Mag­ness Lake each win­ter had grown to 22 by 1998 and con­tained pri­mar­ily un­marked swans. To­day, trum­peter swans can be found dur­ing win­ter on Mag­ness Lake as well as on farm ponds and wa­ter stor­age ponds sev­eral miles away. In 2015, it was es­ti­mated that 400 trum­peter swans win­ter through­out ponds in Cle­burne County.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion worked with the Iowa De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources in 20082010 to re­lease 49 young trum­peter swans in Arkansas at the Holla Bend Na­tional Wildlife Refuge along the Arkansas River, a few miles down­stream from Dar­danelle and in the Box­ley Val­ley area of the Buf­falo River from 2008-2010.

Bi­ol­o­gists hoped these young swans would re­turn to both ar­eas in win­ter and, within a few years, bring their fam­i­lies south. The project’s ob­jec­tive was to cre­ate a me­mory of where they should go dur­ing the cold win­ter months when food is scarce on the breed­ing grounds.

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