Trumpeter swans are slowly making a comeback in Iowa and presentations today will update their progress. Rhonda Miller is director of the Grotto of the Redemption in the northwest Iowa town of West Bend. Miller says the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is putting on two educational seminars today, focused on the big white birds.
Miller says there used to be thousands of trumpeter swans in Iowa but in the late 1800s, they were hunted almost to extinction. By the early 1930s, fewer than 70 of the swans remained in the lower 48 states. This pair of seminars is part of a program that’s been underway since 1985 to expand the swan population in Iowa. The Grotto is one of several places in the state where the large birds are living — and closely protected.
One pair stays at the Grotto year-round and there are several other pairs across Iowa. The young signets are banded and released in the spring. In 1995, the Grotto of the Redemption joined swan restoration efforts with the release of a pair of trumpeter swans on the pond. Since that time, 47 cygnets have been hatched there. Miller says they’re beautiful birds with a wingspan of up to eight feet.
Iowa’s geology has changed radically over the years as wetlands have been drained and terraced for farming, which Miller says was their native land and the trumpeters were no longer able to be a thriving species. The educational sessions will be held at 11:30 AM and 1:30 P.M., and include a 30-minute presentation and an opportunity to touch and view swans up close and take pictures. For more information, visit the Grotto website and click on Calendar of Events.