SELECTED PAPERS OF THE TWENTIETH TRUMPETER SWAN SOCIETY CONFERENCE

 

 

Trumpeter Swan Restoration:

Exploration and Challenges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20-22 October 2005

Council Bluffs, Iowa

 

 

 

Madeleine H. Linck

Ruth E. Shea

Editors


Conference Chairs

Ron Andrews

Madeleine Linck

 

 

 

Conference Sponsors

The Trumpeter Swan Society

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Xcel Energy Foundation

The Summerlee Foundation

 

 

 

Special Thanks To

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program

Dave Hoffman

Linda Scheurmann

DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Personnel

Pottawattamie County Conservation Board

Hitchcock Nature Area staff

Arnie Fredrickson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by The Trumpeter Swan Society with financial assistance from The Summerlee Foundation.  Copies may be purchased from The Trumpeter Swan Society, 12615 County Road 9, Plymouth, MN   55441.

 

March 2007

 

ISSN 1094-6144


PREFACE

 

 

Members of The Trumpeter Swan Society share a common mission to assure the vitality and welfare of wild Trumpeter Swan populations.  The Society advocates on behalf of the Trumpeter Swan in the areas of population security, range expansion, habitat conservation and management, research, and public education.  Trumpeter Swan restoration in the Midwest was begun more than 40 years ago.  Initially, emphasis was on restoring breeding pairs to northern historical nesting lakes and marshes. While once believed to be only a bird of pristine wilderness, we have seen that the Trumpeter Swan has been able to adapt and thrive in the Midwest, exceeding population goals in each of its various flocks. However, challenges to their security remain, especially related to the availability of healthy and secure winter habitat and developing techniques to encourage a larger portion of the Interior Population to migrate to more southern habitats. 

 

Since our founding in 1968, our conferences have brought together agency managers and researchers, private sector partners, landowners, and other interested citizens to discuss the issues, problems, and opportunities of Trumpeter Swan restoration and management.  By maintaining this network of swan enthusiasts, the Society has helped promote more effective management and restoration of Trumpeter Swans across North America where suitable habitat remains.

 

The 20th Society Conference was held in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a historic Missouri River town.  While presentations and discussions focused on the successes and challenges of the restoration of the Interior Population, we also heard talks ranging from Tundra Swan studies in Alaska to Trumpeter Swan surveys in western Canada and Mute Swan impacts on Chesapeake Bay.  Liz Christiansen, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), welcomed conference participants to the 2 days of presentations.  We give our sincere thanks to the Iowa DNR Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program for their help in arranging the many conference details and logistics.  Thank you also to TTSS member Linda Scheurmann for researching the natural and historic highlights in and around Council Bluffs.  The all-day field trip was hosted by Ron Andrews and Dave Hoffman who were our tour guides through the beautiful Loess Hills National Scenic Byway and DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.  Conference participants and local school children were able to witness a swan release at DeSoto Lake, an oxbow lake once part of the Missouri River, and now protected by the Refuge for waterfowl habitat.  Many thanks to the staff at Hitchcock Nature Center for leading an interpretive hike overlooking the prairie and woodlands of the Loess Hills in fall color.  At the Saturday evening banquet, TTSS member Arnie Fredrickson shared his excellent aerial and close-up slides of Trumpeter and Tundra Swans wintering and staging on the Mississippi River as well as trumpeters nesting in the marshes of east central Minnesota.

 

We gratefully acknowledge both Xcel Energy Foundation and The Summerlee Foundation for their generous funding that substantially defrayed conference costs and the printing of this special issue of North American Swans.  Finally, we thank the authors who submitted their papers so that others might learn more about the needs of this majestic bird that we all cherish.

 

 

Madeleine Linck and Ruth Shea

The Trumpeter Swan Society

 


OPENING REMARKS

 

 

OCTOBER 20, 2005

 

On behalf of our Governor, Tom Vilsack, and the people of Iowa, I welcome you to our beautiful state and to Council Bluffs.  I am glad you chose Iowa and Council Bluffs for your meeting this week.  As we recognize and continue to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition that passed through here, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that this area did not always look as it does.  We know the river looked different, but we cannot possibly comprehend the untouched beauty and natural abundance that once characterized this land. The French and Spanish explorers and traders who were in Council Bluffs almost a century before the Lewis and Clark expedition must have been amazed at these hills and the river so well known and cherished by Native Americans.  When the expedition came through, the explorers stayed 5 days at White Catfish Camp, known today as Long's Landing.  Lewis and Clark later met with Missouri and Otoe Indians 10 miles north of Omaha.  This historic council in the bluffs provided the model for future meetings with the Native Americans and gave us the name of this city.

 

In studying Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journals, it appears they may have been the first to describe our largest waterfowl, the Trumpeter Swan, and, just as importantly, differentiate it from the Tundra Swan (formerly known as the whistling swan). Lewis continually heard the swans bugling overhead throughout their travel west and in a note written in the course of the expedition in the Rocky Mountains, he recorded that “the Swans are of two kinds, the large and small. The small differs from the large only in size and note; it is about one fourth less, and its note is entirely different.” Little did he know that those birds, so numerous as to darken the sky, would be persecuted to the point of near oblivion.  It would take tremendous skill, effort, and ingenuity to reverse that trend and to hear and see the swans, the birds that Yeats called “those brilliant creatures” (Wild Swans at Coole), once again.

 

I would like to note a couple of interesting items about this area.  Council Bluffs is often affectionately referred to as Iowa’s “leading edge” or our “gateway to the west.”  It was none other than Abraham Lincoln who traveled to Council Bluffs in 1859 and spent 3 days discussing with locals the possibility of a coast-to-coast railroad.  After he was elected to the presidency, Mr. Lincoln designated Council Bluffs the eastern terminus of the transcontinental railroad.  You will tour through the unique Loess Hills, consisting of wind-blown silt that forms some of the most agriculturally productive soils in the world. The amazing thing about the Loess Hills is that, aside from the fact that this landform is found in only one other place in the world, China, because the silt was deposited by wind, it is a direct record of atmospheric circulation and as such can be used to test computer models of ice-age climates. 

 

Returning to our swans, I applaud your work to restore this noble bird to its proper stature in our natural world.  As you deliberate and discuss various issues, I encourage you to promote supporting environmental issues, especially water quality.  Improving Iowa’s water quality is one of Governor Vilsack’s top priorities and, among those working in natural resources and environmental protection, it is one of the most critical issues facing us.  Iowa has lost over 95 percent of its former 2 ½ million acres of glaciated wetlands and it shows.  Rebuilding these important natural cleansing systems is a critical component of our work across the Department of Natural Resources. We are also working closely with private property owners to promote wetland restoration.  Swans may be the key; since it turns out that citizens are really interested in Iowa’s Trumpeter Swan restoration project and are encouraged by its success and want to be part of it.  Ron Andrews calls it “trumpeting the cause for wetlands,” knowing that improving water quality through wetland restoration will benefit our swans.  

 

2005 marks the 10th year of Iowa’s Trumpeter Swan restoration effort and we have reached our first goal of establishing 15 free-flying nesting Trumpeter Swans. Even better, we have nearly reached our second goal of establishing 25 nesting pairs.  To date, 572 Trumpeter Swans have been released in Iowa and over 100 trumpeters wintered in Iowa during the 2004-05 winter. People were responsible for the demise of Trumpeter Swans, and it seems only appropriate that we bear the responsibility for their return.  You professionals and organizations like The Trumpeter Swan Society are to be commended for your passion and tireless efforts to bring back this beautiful bird to the skies and wetland landscapes across America.

 

Once again, welcome to western Iowa and enjoy your conference!

 

Liz Christiansen, Iowa Department of Natural Resources

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

INTERIOR POPULATION

 

 

IOWA’S TRUMPETER SWAN RESTORATION PROGRAM – A 2005 UPDATE ........................................................... 3

Ron Andrews and Dave Hoffman

 

OHIO TRUMPETER SWAN REINTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................. 6

David E. Sherman

 

THE INVENTORY OF TRUMPETER SWANS IN ONTARIO IN 2005................................................................................ 11

Harry G. Lumsden

 

WISCONSIN TRUMPETER SWAN RECOVERY PROGRAM:  PROGRESS TOWARD

RESTORATION, 1987-2005 ....................................................................................................................................................... 12

Sumner W. Matteson, Patricia F. Manthey, Michael J. Mossman, and Lisa M. Hartman.

 

STATUS OF THE MICHIGAN POPULATION OF TRUMPETER SWANS, 2005............................................................. 20

Joe W. C. Johnson

 

STATUS OF TRUMPETER SWANS (Cygnus buccinator) AT SENEY NATIONAL

WILDLIFE REFUGE (1991-2005) .............................................................................................................................................. 22

David Olson, R. Gregory Corace III, Damon McCormick, and Vince Cavalieri

 

Status of the High Plains Flock of Trumpeter Swans IN 2005................................................................ 23

Shilo Comeau-Kingfisher and Tom Koerner

 

INTERIOR POPULATION OF TRUMPETER SWANS: STATUS AND TRENDS........................................................... 28

Joe W. C. Johnson

 

CENTRAL FLYWAY PERSPECTIVES ON TRUMPETER SWAN MANAGEMENT...................................................... 29

Mark P. Vrtiska, James L. Hansen, and Dave E. Sharp,                                     

 

MANAGING MONTICELLO TRUMPETER SWANS AND POWER LINE ISSUES –

A COOPERATIVE EFFORT...................................................................................................................................................... 34

Pamela J. Rasmussen

 

MIGRATION OF ONTARIO TRUMPETER SWANS........................................................................................................... 37

Harry G. Lumsden

 

THE TRUMPETER SWANS OF HEBER SPRINGS, CLEBURNE COUNTY, ARKANSAS............................................. 42

Madeleine Linck, Karen Rowe, and Joe Mosby

 

SURVIVAL OF WISCONSIN INTERIOR POPULATION OF TRUMPETER SWANS..................................................... 45

Michael W. Eichholz and Dana M. Varner

 

TEACHING GEESE, SWANS, AND CRANES PRE-SELECTED MIGRATION ROUTES

USING ULTRALIGHT AIRCRAFT – LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE.............................................................................. 53

William J. L. Sladen and Glen H. Olsen

 


IS MIGRATION NECESSARY FOR RESTORATION OF TRUMPETER SWANS IN THE MIDWEST?..................... 55

Laurence N. Gillette

 

 

PACIFIC COAST/ROCKY MOUNTAIN POPULATIONS

 

 

THE YUKON AND NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA TRUMPETER SWAN SURVEY,

AUGUST 2005............................................................................................................................................................................. 61

Jim Hawkings and André Breault

 

THE 2005 INTERNATIONAL SURVEY OF TRUMPETER SWANS IN ALBERTA, SASKATCHEWAN,

MANITOBA,  AND THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES................................................................................................... 78

Gerard W. Beyersbergen, Mark Heckbert, Rob Kaye, Tim Sallows, and Paul Latour

 

ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK TRUMPETER SWAN REINTRODUCTION – 2005 UPDATE............................... 88

Gerard W. Beyersbergen and Rob Kaye

 

TRUMPETER SWAN TRANSLOCATION PROJECT 2001 – 2005 IN IDAHO: SURVIVAL

AND MOVEMENT................................................................................................................................................................... 98

Darlene Kilpatrick, Kerry P. Reese, Laurie Hanuska-Brown, and Tom Hemker

 

TRUMPETER SWAN REINTRODUCTION ON THE FLATHEAD INDIAN RESERVATION.................................. 100

Dale M. Becker and Janene S. Lichtenberg

 

SURVIVAL ANALYSIS OF MALHEUR NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

TRUMPETER SWANS.......................................................................................................................................................... 106

Gary L. Ivey and John E. Cornely

 

THE 2005 CENSUS OF TRUMPETER SWANS ON ALASKAN NESTING HABITATS............................................ 107

Bruce Conant, John I. Hodges, Deborah J. Groves, and James G. King

 

FACTORS AFFECTING THE GROWTH AND DISTRIBUTION OF TRUMPETER SWAN

POPULATIONS IN ALASKA FROM 1968-2005 (PRELIMINARY RESULTS)............................................................. 113

Joshua H. Schmidt, Mark S. Lindberg, Devin S. Johnson, Bruce Conant, and James G. King

 

MORTALITY OF SWANS DUE TO INGESTION OF LEAD SHOT, WHATCOM COUNTY,

WASHINGTON, AND SUMAS PRAIRIE, BRITISH COLUMBIA................................................................................. 114

M. C. Smith, J. M. Grassley, C. E. Grue, Mike Davison, Cindy Schexnider, and Laurie Wilson

 

THE WINTER DISTRIBUTION OF TRUMPETER SWANS IN RELATION TO BREEDING AREAS:

THE FIRST NECKBAND STUDY, 1972-1981

William J. L. Sladen and John C. Whissel................................................................................................................... 117

 

ASSORTED SWAN PAPERS

 

NORTH AMERICAN TRUMPETER SWAN STATUS AND TRENDS......................................................................... 129

Joe W. C. Johnson

 

COMPARISON OF 290 PHOTOS OF WILD SWAN NESTS........................................................................................... 130

James G. King

 

MULTI-YEAR MONITORING PROGRAM FOR TUNDRA SWANS ON THE NORTH SLOPE

OF ALASKA............................................................................................................................................................................ 136

Caryn Rea, Bob Ritchie, Alice Stickney, and James G. King

 

PREDICTIVE MODELING FOR SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION DECLINE DUE TO

MUTE SWANS IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY................................................................................................................... 140

Ketan S. Tatu, James T. Anderson, and Larry J. Hindman

 

THE EARLIEST HISTORICAL RECORDS OF TRUMPETER SWANS – EXTRALIMITAL

TO TODAY’S DISTRIBUTION............................................................................................................................................ 148

Michael R. North

 

 

THE PRIVATE SECTOR’S ROLE IN RESTORATION

 

THE TRUMPETER SWANS OF MONTICELLO, MINNESOTA.................................................................................... 153

Sheila Lawrence                                                                 

 

TRUMPETER SWANS FROM A VOLUNTEER’S PERSPECTIVE................................................................................. 156

Beverly and Ray Kingdon

 

THE NESTING TRUMPETER SWANS OF DAWN, MISSOURI.................................................................................... 158

Bud Neptune