Wednesday, December 19, 2012


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Drove to Ottawa National WR and parked on long entrance road to walking trails and marshes. Only 30 feet into the marsh, standing atop a muskrat house was a huge swan...a Trumpeter Swan! A yellow neck band labeled 1A2 could be seen, along with a gold/copper colored metal leg band. There were 2 adult Trumpeter Swans with 4 immatures close to them. In the distance were eight Tundra Swans. Nice experience to compare the sizes and to see the yellow mark at the bill base of the Tundra Swans. The two groups of swans never intermingled while I was there. Also counted a female Hooded Merganser, 7 Green-winged Teal, 4 American Widgeon, dozens of Mallards, several Pied-billed Grebes, 50 Canada Geese, a pair of Wood Ducks, six Gadwalls, 4 Great Blue Herons, 1 Great Egret, 6 Double-crested Cormorants, 1 mature Bald Eagle, several Red-tailed Hawks, 1 American Kestrel, and several Am. Coots.
Trumpeter Swan notecards
Hats off to all those dedicated to bringing back the Trumpeter Swan from near extinction, so the rest of us can continue to enjoy viewing them, here in NW the wild. Until recently, Trumpeter swans were at extinction's door. They had been hunted mercilessly for feathered hats and powder puffs, while draining their wetland environs and filling it with lead shot. Roughly 25 years ago, dedicated naturalists began a relentless effort to stave off the extermination of swans and cranes.

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They reintroduced the Trumpeter swan to the Midwest and the Whooping crane to the Eastern U.S. These dedicated people worked tirelessly in the field, dressed up in white crane-mimicking burkas and used hand puppets to teach young chicks to forage, flew ultra-lights to guide young cranes on their first migration and, egg-by-egg, slowly brought back the numbers of Trumpeter swans. Thanks!

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I'm so glad they did, for the "Trumpeter" has been written about extensively. Even E.B. White, the famous author, included a Trumpeter swan in his novel. I remember my daughter, years ago, reading his novel, Charlotte's Web. Along with Wilbur, the lovable pig and the intelligent spider named Charlotte, there was Louis, the Trumpeter Swan, who appeared in another White novel, The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis came into the world lacking a voice but triumphed over his handicap by becoming a famous  trumpet player. 

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