By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
A setback for trumpeter swan breeding and recovery programs in Central Oregon.
Two local adult swans died recently and now the rush is on to find new mates for their partners before an entire breeding season is lost.
“It’s really just an unlucky coincidence that we lost our female, Grace, a few months ago, and the Aspen Lake couple lost their male so we are in the process of trying to restore those partnerships with swans from the United States area that could come and fill those gaps,” said Kelli Neumann, Animal Program Coordinator at the Sunriver Nature Center.
The state population of trumpeter swans is estimated at 35. There may be just 1,000 of them across the country.
They were hunted to near extinction at the turn of the 19th century.
Gus and Grace in Sunriver and Pete and Eloise at Aspen Lakes Golf Course near Sisters, produced a couple dozen cygnets the past few years.
Pete died over the weekend from an infection.
Those babies were relocated to the Malheur and Summer Lake areas as part of a national effort to recover trumpeter swan populations.
“We definitely want to get him established with a female by breeding season so they can get to know each other, get to like each other, build a nest and establish a family group,” Neumann said. “You never count your chickens before they hatch, or your swans, but soon, very soon. Hopefully within the next couple of days we’ll know one way or the other.”
An Aspen Lakes homeowner has volunteered to fly a private plane to the east coast to bring a male swan back to Sisters.
Neumann says the local breeding program is helping save the endangered species.
“Grace had 14 or 15 cygnets that we’ve released into the wild. They’ve been sighted as far as Canada where they migrate to of course, but also Wisconsin and Minnesota,” she said. “Those swans are then making families of their own, so its exponential compared to these two particular pairs.”
Trumpeters are big, beautiful birds with loads of personality.
One of Sunriver’s swans was famously photographed attacking a sign cautioning bird watchers about aggressive swans.