Trumpeter Swans

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Each year more than 100 trumpeter swans migrate to Arkansas. The waterfowl usually do not come to this region of the country.  They are in large numbers in Alaska + Wyoming along with other western states. It is speculated that the first swans showed up in Arkansas after a severe storm forced them southward. The numbers have increased steadily during the past 15 years and are now over 100. Swan hunting is not allowed in Arkansas. If you don’t go for any other reason, it should be to hear them. Their voice is amazing, especially when the lake is full of them. It’s so neat to watch them interact with each other + when they take off and land! The trumpeters traditionally come around mid-November and stay until late February.

Each year our family loves going to visit the swans when they come to town. We are really so blessed to live in the area we do. We take many things for granted. I wanted to share some of our pictures from our time there this year + encourage you to go see them before they leave again! Years ago they use to always go to this private lake and it was so neat to see them, but the lake was fenced in so you could only see from afar. Animals are unique + for the past couple of years they have been picking this new location. I honestly love it though, because you can go right up to them + throw them corn. Whoever owns the property is gracious enough to have deer corn feeders for everyone to enjoy. One of Ezra’s favorite books is the ugly duckling, so last year we referred to the swans as an ugly duckling + he was over the moon! He was so mesmerized by seeing his book come to life. This year though he was more interested in the corn feeder at first, ha-ha boys! He is a brave little guy though, he went up to one swan and threw corn for it to eat. That swan felt threated by him + started to warn Ezra to back away, I thought it would scare Ezra, but it didn’t seem to phase him at all. Below I put some interesting facts + directions!

XO Colleen Cashio

Cool Facts

·       Trumpeter Swans are impressively large—males average over 26 pounds, making them North America’s heaviest flying bird. To get that much mass aloft the swans need at least a 100 meter-long “runway” of open water: running hard across the surface, they almost sound like galloping horses as they generate speed for take off. 

·       Starting in the 1600s, market hunters and feather collectors had decimated Trumpeter Swans populations by the late 1800s. Swan feathers adorned fashionable hats, women used swan skins as powder puffs, and the birds’ long flight feathers were coveted for writing quills. Aggressive conservation helped the species recover by the early 2000s.

·       Overhunting of muskrats and beavers may have harmed Trumpeter Swans, too: the swans nest on their dens and dams. As the rodents’ populations recovered, breeding habitat for the swans also improved.

·       Trumpeter Swans form pair bonds when they are three or four years old. The pair stays together throughout the year, moving together in migratory populations. Trumpeters are assumed to mate for life, but some individuals do switch mates over their lifetimes. Some males that lost their mates did not mate again. 

·       Trumpeter Swans take an unusual approach to incubation: they warm the eggs by covering them with their webbed feet. 

·       The Trumpeter Swan’s scientific name, Cygnus buccinator, is from the Latin Cygnus (swan) and buccinare (to trumpet). We humans have a buccinator muscle in our cheeks—we use it to blow out candles and to blow into trumpets and other instruments. 

·       A “voiceless” Trumpeter Swan named Louis was the main character in E. B. White’s 1970 children’s book, The Trumpet of the Swan. Louis courted his partner Serena by playing a trumpet. 

·       Although awkward on the ground due to short legs set behind their center of gravity, they can walk more than a mile at a time, even when traveling with cygnets less than a week old.

·       The oldest known Trumpeter Swan was a female, and at least 26 years, 2 months old when she was identified by her bank in the wild, in Wisconsin. One captive individual lived to be 32.

Cool facts from  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/lifehistory#

Directions to Magness Lake (the one with the fence)

To view the swans, drive east on Arkansas 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 and 25 just east of Heber Springs. Go 3.9 miles from the intersection to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, marked with a white sign. Turn left on paved Hays Road; the road sign is very small. Magness Lake is about a half-mile down Hays Road.

Visitors can view the swans from a public road with parking space available in an S curve. Shelled corn is the only recommended feed. Chances of seeing numbers of the trumpet swans are best in late afternoons. During the day, they roam around in small groups, feeding in spots sometimes miles away. But they return to the lake before dark. A few of the swans usually hang around the lake during midday, too.

Directions to the new location

Drive east on 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 + 25 just east of Heber Springs. Take a right on Hiram after you cross the bridge over Little Red River. Drive a couple miles; you’ll think surely I’ve passed it by now. No you haven’t, just keep driving there is a sign that says “Water for sale” on your left. Turn on that dirt road + boom you’re there! If you come to the intersection to go to Searcy you’ve gone to far.