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Archive for Friday, February 7, 2003

Swans make unusual appearance

Rare trumpeters spend winter vacation at Perry Lake

February 7, 2003

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Two rare trumpeter swans -- an adult and a juvenile -- have spent the past three weeks at Perry Lake.

"It's been pretty exciting," said Bunnie Watkins, park manager. "We've been getting a lot of comments on their natural beauty -- and they are really beautiful birds."

Trumpeter swans are uncommon in Kansas.

"I think we've had three sightings in the past 10 years; usually, it's during migration," Watkins said.

Most trumpeter swans seen in Kansas come from Minnesota, Wisconsin or Iowa. Because the adult swan has a red band around its neck, Watkins said, it probably is from Iowa.

"We've reported the sighting and the numbers on the band," she said.

Known for their ability to tolerate inclement weather, trumpeter swans tend to travel as far south as open water dictates. When the water freezes, they go south again until they find more open water.

"We're surprised they've been here this long," Watkins said. "We're fortunate."

Trumpeter swans, rarely seen in Kansas, enjoy an open pool of water
at Perry Lake. The adult, left, and juvenile have been at the lake
since Jan. 14.

Trumpeter swans, rarely seen in Kansas, enjoy an open pool of water at Perry Lake. The adult, left, and juvenile have been at the lake since Jan. 14.

At the reservoir, the swans have been lingering at the outlet area about a quarter-mile from the dam.

"We want people to see them, to appreciate them," Watkins said. "So we're asking that they not approach them and, most definitely, no dogs."

Those who take binoculars can expect good, long looks at the majestic birds, she said. Of course, there's no way to know when the birds will leave.

The adult is mostly white; the juvenile is all gray.

With wingspans of 6 feet to 8 feet, trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl in North America. A typical goose wingspan, by comparison, is 5 feet.









About the trumpeterDiet: Mostly vegetarian, the trumpeter eats aquatic plants, seeds, insects, snails, small reptiles, fish and mollusks.Size: The trumpeter is the largest waterfowl native to North America. Most weigh 21-30 pounds. Standing on ground, an adult is about 4 feet tall.Call: Observers have described the trumpeter's call as resonant, deep and loud, hence its name.Mating: Trumpeters mate for life. They generally build nests on muskrat or beaver lodges.Life span: 20 to 30 years.History: By 1900, it was widely believed that the species -- hunted for its down -- had become extinct, but small isolated populations survived and the species made a comeback.¢ Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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