Written by Alexa Martinez, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Biologist/Photo by Peter Pearsall
During the months of January and February, trumpeter and tundra swans begin their migration north to breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska. Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few locations in Eastern Oregon that provides an area for migrating swans to rest; a small population of trumpeter swans remains here year-round. Once a week, a biologist will go out to areas where swans are known to be present, thanks to previous collected data. This survey gives us an idea of the number of swans utilizing the Refuge as a checkpoint during their migration. This includes areas located on the south end of the Refuge, such as Krumbo Reservoir, Benson Pond, Dredger Pond and Boca Lake.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife conducts a winter swan survey once a year to count migration of wintering swans throughout the state of Oregon. This year’s survey was conducted in early February 2019. Over the month of February there has been a total of 1,037 swans seen on the Refuge. Three of those swans were seen with green collars and marked as Θ64, Θ76, and 2@1. All three swans are Malheur resident swans, so it’s great to see them return after their winter vacation. Θ64 is our resident female trumpeter swan at Benson Pond. She was born at Benson Pond in 2009, collared later that summer, and became the breeding female at Benson in 2014.
At Malheur Refuge all staff, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to report sightings of both trumpeter and tundra swans on the Refuge. Please let us know if you see swans during your Refuge visit!