Monthly Archives: January 2011

Monticello Swans

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Trumpeters were once fairly common throughout the U.S. and Canada. During the 19th century, near extinction was caused by market hunting, and mass market use of feathers for hats, pens and writing quills.  Swan eggs were also harvested for eating. By the late 1880’s, it was believed they were extinct, until 1919 when two nests were found in Yellowstone National Park. Minnesota Swan restoration began in 1966, pioneered by the efforts of Hennepin Parks followed by the Minnesota Department of National Resources recovery program in 1982. By 1994, the project had raised and released 215 Trumpeters and estimated a free-flying flock of 250 in Minnesota. Today, Monticello continues to play a key role in rebuilding the Swan population, providing a safe harbor in open river waters during winter months.

Trumpeters weigh between 21-35 lbs. and can live for up to 25 years. They form a pair bond with their mate for life.

Nesting occurs on land between 3 to 6 years of age in remote areas of ½ to 50 acres. Nests are approximately 6-feet around and in late April, 3 to 8 eggs are laid with incubation at 33 days with only a 30% success ratio.  Cygnets are gray colored for the first year and gradually turn snow white.

Trumpeter Swans do not maneuver very well due to their size and need sufficient space for take off and landing. This is why it is important not to scare them as many can be injured trying to escape. Lead poisoning, illegal shooting, power lines, predators and loss of wetland habitat are the main threats to the Trumpeter Swan population.