Swan on stamp inspires information
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.