Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
Did you know that trumpeter swans were a candidate for the endangered species list? Or that they are the largest and rarest of the world's 5 swan species, with a 7 foot wing spread, and weighing up to 35 pounds? Do you know that they are currently on the threatened list, and the entire population of trumpeters is estimated at 5,000 birds with 500 nesting pairs? At one time trumpeters were nearly hunted to extinction. They are making a slow comeback, and Boxley Valley is a small part of that effort.
Most people don't know much about trumpeter swans, I know I didn't. I had heard of them in a vague sort of way, but it just didn't register with me how significant and threatened they are. Boxley Valley's mill pond has a handful of trumpeter swans and it is largely off the radar. (A much larger population is located at Mangess Lake east of Heber Springs.)
On the Boxley Valley Mill Pond you will currently see three trumpeters wearing pop can sized tags on their necks. They were released there as part of a reverse-migration planting scheme that hopes to induce migratory behavior in young birds who have been relocated there. The mill pond has traditionally had a few wild trumpeters migrate in each year. This efforts could result in establishing a larger population.
Trumpeter swans are great to watch and photograph. They are given to crazy movements of all sorts, and sometimes it looks like they going through yoga postures or tai chi. I caught one the wild birds at daybreak a couple of years ago going through his moves. They have a characteristic move of standing on one foot and sticking the other straight out the back.
These are big, beautiful birds and fun to photograph. I wish the current threesome didn't need their popcan neck tags, but in view of the preservation effort I understand. Each fall we anticipate the migration in of a couple of wild birds. The millpond is a great place to get waterbird pictures. The trumpeters will swim up the little feeder stream now and then. The very rustic and wild pond lends itself to great context photos. This is a great opportunity to photograph a very rare bird on the threatened list. It is another reason why the Buffalo Natonal River is such a great place to visit.
Useful Links on Trumpeters:
The Trumpeter Society
This group was formed in the 1960s to help protect the trumpeter from extinction.
Arkansas Game and Fish
Facts on trumpeters and efforts underway in Arkansas
Notes & Editorial:
Trumpeter swans are one more species that should be on the endangered species list, but isn't because of the corrosive policies of the current regime in Washington. It is difficult to determine whether the profit motive or the moronic hubris of this crowd is to blame, but we are losing a lot of the wild as a result. Let's get this right. It is one planet, and one ecosystem, and we are all in this together.
The Trumpeter Swans of Boxley Valley