Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Trumpeter Swan Populations: Challenges and Success

Twenty-some years ago I visited Yellowstone National Park for the first time. I remember driving through Hayden Valley and being in complete awe of the large Bison herds. I was so excited to see massive bull bison for the first time in my life and stopped at every pulloff to
photograph and admire these epic symbols of the American West. At one pulloff I saw an interpretive ranger with a spotting scope aimed towards the Yellowstone River. There were no bison in that direction, so I assumed she had a bear in the scope. As I approached, the ranger smiled and said “take a look!” without telling me what she was watching. I peered through the scope and instead of the large grizzly I was hoping for, I saw two white swans. This was a few years before I discovered how wonderful birds are and I suspect she noticed my
disappointment. She told me they were Trumpeter Swans, and they were rare or uncommon, and something about conservation efforts, and… a large bison was crossing the road, so I tuned out everything else she was excited to share. The one thing that stuck with me from that interaction is that apparently there was something special about this species. It was nearly a decade later when I finally came back around to learn about and appreciate this magnificent, embattled, and vulnerable species, the largest North American waterfowl and heaviest bird on the continent…

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Article by Bo Crees

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