Trumpeter swans are the largest bird in North America, with seven foot wingspans. The biggest wildlife on the water. But, by a hundred years ago, they had been wiped out from the interior of the continent. They had been hunted commercially, their quills, feathers, and skins harvested for fashionable Europeans.
They are back now. Starting in the 1960s, with a growing environmental ethic and a lot of hard work, birds and eggs were brought from Montana and Alaska and reared and released and today there are about 10,000 in the region.
They nest in the wetlands and winter in any patch of open water, where springs seep or a tributary joins the St. Croix. They are a popular sight at the confluence of the Willow River in Hudson. Along the River Road north of St. Croix Falls, across from Wild River State Park. Pools on fast-moving tributaries. Spring-fed wetlands.
Their presence today is the result of scientists, citizens, and the government resolving to right a wrong.
“These restoration programs are filled with many tales of adventure and partnerships. They demonstrate the dedication, passion, and commitment of individuals, agencies, and organizations to bring back the Trumpeter Swan to a vast swath of North America where it had been hunted to extinction,” the Trumpeter Swan Society’s website reads.
Margaret Smith, the executive director of the swan advocacy group, will present in River Falls this Thursday evening about swans, restoration, threats, and where to go see them.
The Return of the Trumpeter Swan
Thursday, Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m.
First Covenant Church
1374 N. Main St.
River Falls, Wisconsin
If you are a Wisconsin Master Gardener, the presentation also counts towards continuing education hours. A $2 donation supports Master Gardener programs and grants. This is a monthly education program of the St. Croix Valley Master Gardener Association.