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Trumpeter swans visit Minnesota waters

Trumpeter swans make a stop on their way south
Trumpeter swans make a stop on their way south
Brad Putney, True North Photography 2012

Yesterday, we had some unexpected and rarely seen visitors to the waters in front of our cabin. The weather is changing here in northern Minnesota and as many of the snowbirds have already flown to warmer weather. There are, however a few still working their way south. Eight trumpeter swans spent several hours swimming, diving, and posing for photos right off of our beach.

The trumpeter is the heaviest bird native to North America, and on average is largest water bird still living today. During the 1800’s and 1900’s the trumpeter was hunted both for its feathers and as game. In the late 20th century the birds were extinct or rare in much of North America. Efforts to re-introduce the trumpeter to its natural range have been successful, with numbers showing a 400% increase in the last 30 years.

Trumpeters are not often seen in our neck of the woods, but as their numbers grow we may be seeing more of them. Their primary habitat is considerably west of Minnesota in Oregon, Washington, and western Canada. The largest number of nesting pairs can be found in Alaska. And most of those birds will migrate down the west coast to southern California or Mexico.

There is a good chance the birds we saw are headed for either Texas or Arkansas to ride out the winter. My hope is that these birds will stop again on their way back north next spring to be at their nesting grounds by late April possibly into May. No matter what track these beautiful birds take they will always be welcome on our lake.