Nature’s Notebook: The comeback story of the trumpeter swan

The trumpeter swan is the heaviest living bird native to North America, with a wingspan that may exceed 10 ft.

You may have noticed trumpeter swans on Pleasant Lake or Teal Pond—their distinctive black bill against all-white plumage is a handsome and unique feature among their swan brethren. But did you know that these North Oaks residents are descended from Alaska? 

All trumpeter swans in our region owe their existence largely to the efforts of the Nongame Wildlife Program with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which spearheaded a repopulation plan in the 1980s using 50 swan eggs per year (from 1986–88) from Alaska, which had a healthy trumpeter population. Hunting and human settlement throughout the 1800s had reduced the trumpeter population to almost nothing in Minnesota; by the 1930s, only 69 trumpeters remained in the lower 48 states, living in the remote Red Rock Lakes area in southeastern Montana.

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