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Did you know that Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinators) used to nest freely throughout the state of Iowa? Unfortunately, due to overhunting and land development, the last wild nesting of Trumpeter Swans occurred in 1883. Trumpeter Swans were not given nationwide protection until 1918 and in the 1930s, less than 70 Trumpeter Swans were observed in a nationwide count.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources began a program designed to restore the Trumpeter Swan population in 1993. Their goal was to “establish 15 wild nesting pairs back to the state by the year 2003” and to “use the swans to promote the many values of wetlands not only for wildlife habitat but for water quality and flood reduction” as well. In 1998, the Iowa DNR recorded its first wild-nesting of Trumpeter Swans since 1883.

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Thanks to this program, in 1998, 1999, and 2000 the first and second generation of “free-flying trumpeter swans nested in Iowa since 1883.” The Iowa DNR set a new goal to establish 40 nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans by 2007. By 2008, Trumpeter Swans were located in 21 different locations across 14 counties throughout Iowa. In 2011, the Iowa DNR announced that its campaign was a success and that they would begin phasing out their campaign. As of 2012, the Iowa DNR has recorded 50 nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans. with over 150 cygnet hatchings.

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Did You Know…

  • Trumpeter Swans can live up to 24 years.
  • Trumpeter Swans are one of the largest flying birds in the United States with wingspans up to seven feet!
  • Young Trumpeter Swans are called cygnets.
  • A male swan is called a “Cob” and a female is called a “Pen.”
  • Swans are aquatic vegetarians – they eat leaves, seeds, and roots of pond vegetation; they will also eat grains.
  • There are 6 different swan species in the northern hemisphere:  Bewick’s Swan, Jankowski Swan, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan, Whooper Swan


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Info courtesy of the Iowa DNR and www.stuorg.iastate.edu/swan/