Tribes ask for "citizen scientists" to search for cygnets

Aug 29, 2013

Trumpeter Swans and Cygnets.
Credit CSKT Wildlife Program

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are calling their Trumpeter Swan reintroduction program a success. The Tribes have been releasing swans bred in captivity since 2002 on the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley.

Wildlife Program Manager for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Dale Becker says the swans were historically hunted for food and for marketable goods.

The population was wiped out. The Tribes have released 239 swans since 2002. They count 87 successful nesting attempts with 146 fledgling cygnets since the releases started.

“It’s encouraging; it’s kind of a neat experience being able to put a species back out on the land that’s been gone for maybe 100 years as a breeding bird, and then to see success again,” Becker said.

Trumpeter Swans can weigh in at 30 pounds, and reach 4-feet-tall with a 7-foot-wingspan. They have white feathers with smooth black beaks and got their name for their deep, loud, trumpet-like honk.

The Tribes set a goal of 10-breeding pairs of Trumpeter Swans. Becker said if they haven’t actually hit that mark, they’re close, and have been hearing about birds nesting near Eureka, Glacier National Park and at the Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. 

Right now, they’re asking for help from the public in spotting nesting birds.

Becker said they survey the Reservation as thoroughly as they can, but could use help; if people see Trumpeter Swans nesting, or collared swans, contact Becker at The Trumpeter Swan Society also has a worksheet through their website for reporting a collared swan.