Daily Connector | Three Large Birds for Christmas | Ruth Massey

With the winter school break, I have had more opportunity to take long walks and to be in places where birds might be. Here is the account of the first of the three large birds I encountered.

Note: The idea to write these essays was probably influenced by helping Natalie in her “research” on her pick of a burrowing animal, the Kingfisher.

On Christmas Day, after a walk along the Scioto River, I headed over to what is known on eBird as Quarry Apartment Lake. So far this winter, it has hosted Redhead, Bufflehead and Ring-necked Ducks, along with Hooded Mergansers. On this visit three Trumpeter Swan were close to shore.

My first introduction to Trumpeter Swan was April 2015. Ajay and I were walking at Slate Run Metro Parks Wetlands with Ted and Diane Mueller. As we rounded a curve in the path, the air around us was filled with a vibrating buzz, a sound new to us. Just over our heads, two large white birds were coming in and landed in a nearby pond. (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/sounds. Listen to Wing sound.)

We were awestruck and not sure what we were looking at. We quickly searched our bird guides for an ID. My book on the Eastern Region of the US, published in 1996, did not contain an entry for Trumpeter Swan. The others had more recent publications and the ID was made. The grand and surprise entry of these birds into that pond and into our awareness will be forever etched in my memory.

More research showed that 1996 was a crucial year for Trumpeter Swan in Ohio and across the Midwest.

Widespread hunting for meat, skins and feathers from the 1600s - 1800s had reduced this once widespread species to 69 known individuals by 1935, although isolated pockets of the birds also survived in Canada and Alaska. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/lifehistory

In 1996, Ohio initiated the reintroduction of Trumpeter Swan with the release of 15 birds at the Magee Marsh Wildlife area. Additional birds were released until 2003. Since then numbers have steadily increased and by 2014 there were 40+ breeding pairs. At that point, the status was changed from State Endangered to State Threatened

As of July 2020, it is estimated that there are now 98 breeding pairs and an estimated total of 650 Trumpeter Swan in Ohio. They nest in 21 counties with most in the northwest section.  


Fun facts:
Trumpeter Swan are the heaviest flying bird in North America. Males average 26 pounds. They need 100 yards of open water for a running takeoff.
They form mating bonds around 2-4 years of age and most are assumed to be for life.
Swan in Ohio don’t migrate except if they need open water.
Wintering swan will also forage in croplands and pastures.