We set out along the Blitzen River, and soon we were in the vast expanse of the lake with birds EVERYWHERE! The idea of “counting” seemed comical. How do you count what must have been thousands of birds rising from the lake, circling, shifting?
Throughout eastern Oregon and the Intermountain West migrating and nesting shorebirds depend on saline and freshwater lakes, playas, and nearby wetlands for refueling during migration and for breeding. For example, Wilson’s Phalarope use saline lakes throughout the region as stopover habitat.
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was once home to as many as 20+ breeding pairs of Trumpeter Swans. As recently as the 1990’s Refuge biologists have a history of collaborating with and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists and managers from Summer Lake Wildlife Area to capture cygnets from Benson Pond and transfer them over to Summer Lake.
Numbers of migrant Trumpeter Swans moving through eastern Oregon have increased dramatically over the last two decades, particularly at Malheur Refuge and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) Summer Lake Wildlife Area. We want to learn more about the origins of these trumpeters and to identify their breeding, stopover, and wintering sites.