In the 1930s, Trumpeter Swans were almost extinct. Since then, they have been reintroduced throughout their historic range. In 1992, part of the population that now nests in the upper Midwest began migrating to central Arkansas. As many as 300 have returned in recent years.

I drove up through the fog and gloom on the day after Christmas. By the time I arrived at the ponds where the swans hang out, it was raining steadily. The swans are wild birds, but the are obviously very used to humans. A corn feeder ensures that they stay close to the viewing area.

There was a car already there, and the birds were swimming further out in the lake. When that car left, I pulled up about 20 yards from the shore. The swans drifted in and were soon eating the corn and paying very little attention to me.

Among the 103 Trumpeter Swans, I spotted a lone Tundra Swan. It stood on the shore right next to a larger Trumpeter and gave me a great chance to compare the two birds. There were also a few Canada Geese and a single Snow Goose among the swans.

Trumpeter Swan (back) and Tundra Swan (front). You can see the yellow spot on the Tundra’s bill that distinguishes it. It’s hard to tell from any distance, but when the two birds were right next to each other, the Trumpeter was obviously larger with a longer neck.
A Trumpeter Swan. The pink line along the bill is visible in this shot.
Trumpeter Swans

After about half an hour, I drove to the second of the three ponds where the birds are seen. There were 56 more Trumpeters there. At the third lake, some of the 14 birds were swimming right next to the shore. There was also a large flock of Ring-necked Ducks and some Buffleheads nearby. (See the last clip in the video.)

The rain ended while I was watching the swans, but started again as I drove back toward Conway. I didn’t let that stop me from hiking around the lake at Woolly Hollow State Park. Even there, on a wet and gloomy day, I met several other people on the trail.

I spent a couple hours touring antique stores and eating an unexciting lunch at David’s Burgers before heading back to Beverly’s house.

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