Saturday, January 7, 2012
The day before yesterday, I saw the first trumpeter swans of the season. Twice a year - in the early fall and then again in the late winter - trumpeter swans pass by as they migrate. I assume, though I really am not sure, that this time of year they are migrating North to their spring breeding grounds.
We are in the middle of the Pacific flyway here and there are many other waterfowl who pass by twice annually - Canada geese, tundra swans, snow geese, and others. The trumpeters are the most spectacular, however. They are really huge, for one thing. When I saw them the other day, they were feeding among the rubble of a corn field along with some Canada geese. Most of you will be familiar with Canada geese - the large, brown and white geese ubiquitous in city parks all over the united states. Canada geese can be scary. They are large enough, and aggressive enough, to intimidate a six year old, for example. Well, trumpeter swans are nearly twice as big.
The field that I pass by is on a quiet country road, and so I stopped to observe the swans for a while. There were about fifty of them, perhaps as many as seventy. Most of them were adults, but there was a smattering of grayish juveniles as well. Many of them were doing a strange kind of dance, dipping their necks and stretching them out, over and over again. I don't know if this was a mating ritual or perhaps just part of their normal feeding behavior.
About thirty miles south of me lies the Skagit Valley, a beautiful, productive, wide flat river valley created by the Skagit river. The Skagit is threatened by runaway development, but still supports some of the greatest abundance and variety of bird life in the entire country. It is, for example, possibly the best area in the lower 48 for observing bald eagles. The estuary supports tens thousands of waterfowl of many different species. In the right season, a person simply cruising along the freeway can observe thousands of trumpeter swans on their annual migrations.
Below, please find a few links to societies which are actively working to protect the Skagit river and its wildlife. Few rivers in the country have as much potential to support wild birds as the Skagit does. Thanks for your support!
The Trumpeter Swan Society
Posted by Aimee at 5:14 PM