[CT Birds] Trumpeter Swans on East Coast

charles barnard jr chbarnjr at gmail.com
Wed Oct 17 22:47:19 EDT 2012

The issue of whether or not Trumpeter Swans were ever migrants through
Connecticut in "days gone by" has been raised in the past.

  I happened to come upon an article in the May/June 2005 issue of Audubon
Magazine (The National Audubon Society's publication) on the subject of
Trumpeter Swans and whether or not they migrated through or even nested in
the eastern United States.  The issue of nesting is still in some dispute,
but there seems to be total agreement that they certainly did pass through
the Northeast on their way to wintering grounds around the Chesapeake Bay
and points south.

Here is a small excerpt from the Audubon magazine article:

*"That trumpeter swans and other waterfowl *once lived together on the East
Coast—at least for part of the year—is unequivocal. John Lawson, an early
surveyor of North Carolina, notes in his 1709 account, *A New Voyage to
Carolina, *that the region had two species of swans, including '[T]he one
we call Trompeters; because of a sort of trompeting Noise they make. These
are the largest sort we have, which come in great Flocks in the Winter, and
stay, commonly, in the fresh Rivers till *February, *that the Spring comes
on, when they go to the Lakes to breed.'

In the late 1700s another naturalist, the minister Jeremy Belknap, traveled
through New Hampshire, and in his history of the state he also describes
the bird we know today as *Cygnus buccinator*: 'It is certain that our swan
is heard to make a sound resembling that of a trumpet, both when in the
water and on the wing.' "

The members of the Atlantic Flyway Council, both American and
Canadian, have not liked the idea of the reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans
to the East Coast - not even as migrants. They fear that a backlash against
swan hunting might develop and jeopardize the large sums of money which
legal hunting for Tundra Swans brings in to their agencies, particularly in
Virginia and North Carolina. There is also some concern that the Trumpeters
would do harm to other wetland species via their feeding habits and
food preferences.

If you are interested in reading this article in it's entirety, here is the


Charlie Barnard Jr


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