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Hunters urged to report swans

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hunters and wildlife watchers are urged to help count and identify Arkansas' wintering swan populations.

Karen Rowe, nongame migratory bird program leader with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said "Numbers of both trumpeter and tundra swans wintering in Arkansas appear to be on the increase. Some of these swans are wearing neck collars that can tell us the state of origin of the swan. We need the public's assistance in not only reporting the location of the swans, more importantly we need their assistance in noting the collar color and reading the alpha numeric code on the collars."

Some of the swans wearing collars were released as a part of the Mississippi Flyway Council's reverse migration experiment.

This experiment attempts to re-establish historic swan migrations south into Arkansas and other southern states from the swans breeding areas in northern states.

Trumpeter swans are the the largest birds native to North America.

Adult males measure 57 to 64 inches long and weigh around 25 pounds. Adult females range from 55 to 60 inches and weigh approximately 20 pounds.

Their wingspans can approach 8 feet, and they fly with their extremely long necks outstretched.

About 5,000 trumpeter swans live in the Midwest area of the United States, most of them in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.

They generally migrate in family groups and prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation.

Little is known regarding the numbers and groupings of southward migrant swans, so the location and characteristics of the sites they are pioneer and the duration of use is important to both the Trumpeter Swan Society and AGFC.

"By providing information and collar data on swans in Arkansas, observers can help document the changing distribution of wintering trumpeter swans and help identify potential new and important swan wintering sites in our state," Rowe said.

Observers should note the exact location of collared swans, and write down the number and letter code off the collar and send that information to Rowe at krowe@agfc.state.ar.us or by completing the online survey.

Because it can be difficult to tell the difference between tundra and trumpeter swans in the field, the public is encouraged to visit www.trumpeterswansociety.org/swan-identi... to learn the key differences in bill shape and other physical characteristics of these two species.

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