Submitted by Kathleen Foley
San Juan Preservation Trust stewardship manager
A new record was set for the number of wintering trumpeter swans counted on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands.
On Jan. 19, 152 total birds were counted, comprising of 135 adults and 17 juveniles. This is a big jump from 2017 when 95 birds were counted. Whether this is an actual increase in numbers of birds or due to increased vigilance and wider participation in the count, is hard to say. Anecdotally, people have been “feeling” like there were more birds this year, and, turning up in places they hadn’t occupied for some time.
The most swans were found on Lopez. The larger flocks were 36 at a marsh near Center Church, and 23 at the Richardson Wetlands. San Juan Island was the runner-up, with 26 in the fields at Red Mill Farm. Orcas was the second runner-up, with 10 birds counted. The intrepid Shaw Island counters came up with a “goose egg” for the fourth year in a row, but what they lack in locating swans they make up for in good attitude!
Having this information helps the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, but it also helps those who are working to conserve habitat locally. Some of the swans’ wintering habitat is still at risk.
Thanks to all who helped tally the trumpeters this year; this is “citizen science” at its best.