Conservation officials hope their trumpeter swans' urge to make babies takes roost
April 30, 2014
Swan Lake’s new male trumpeter swan came from western Illinois where a resident raises them for sale. Conservation officials paid $600, much of which was covered by local donations.
It will be clear in the next two weeks whether Carroll County's newest trumpeter swan pair might hatch a handful of little cygnets this year.
The swans have long been an attraction at Swan Lake State Park, which is part of a state program to restore the swans' presence in Iowa.
The park's swans have clipped wings and can't fly away, but their babies can and might make a nest elsewhere in the state.
Carroll County Conservation workers hustled to find a new male swan this month to replace one that was killed by an animal - possibly a coyote - just before the swans were set to return from a two-year hiatus.
The swans spent time in Buena Vista and Pocahontas counties while workers kept Swan Lake's water level low to accelerate the growth of aquatic plants near its edges.
The new swan came from a western Illinois man who raises them for sale. The county spent $600, about $450 of which was paid by local donations.
"They're getting along pretty well," Matt Wetrich, a county conservation naturalist, said of the new swan and his potential mate. "They hang out together sometimes."
But the clock is ticking.
Trumpeter swans, if they're going to reproduce, typically lay eggs or mate by mid-May. That's why conservation workers hustled, "to make them feel like they had the appropriate time to do what they needed to do," Wetrich said. "We have seen the female up investigating the nest area, so we're still crossing our fingers for them to have a family this summer."
The swans reside in a pen on the northeast side of the lake. The nest sits atop a mount of dirt that protrudes from a pool of water.
Trumpeter swans nested throughout Iowa before farming and other development eliminated much of their habitat by 1883, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The department launched a program in 1993 to restore the swans' presence in the state.
Park visitors can identify the new male swan by a silver band on its leg. It's also smaller than the female.
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