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home : current news : current news May 25, 2018


4/3/2018 1:24:00 PM
Sisters trumpets swan arrival
“Love at first Sight” is what the Cyrus family and Robin Gold of Aspen Lakes are hoping for as Pete, the new mate of Eloise, met her last week. photo Al Krause
+ click to enlarge
“Love at first Sight” is what the Cyrus family and Robin Gold of Aspen Lakes are hoping for as Pete, the new mate of Eloise, met her last week. photo Al Krause

By Jim Anderson
Correspondent

Aspen Lakes near Sisters, in cooperation with The Trumpeter Swan Society (TTSS), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), and benevolent members of the Aspen Lakes homeowners, is about to become involved in an exciting wildlife project.

There are only three trumpeter swans in the breeding program in Oregon, and of these, only one now has a mate. Other participants include the Sunriver female whose mate was recently shot and killed, and a lone female on the Deschutes River in Bend.

Robin Gold of Aspen Lakes told The Nugget, "Since swans are typically sold in pairs, we were extremely fortunate to find an unpaired male for Eloise."

Eloise, purchased with three other swans by Aspen Lakes owners, the Cyrus family, several years ago, has been joined by Pete, a newly acquired young male trumpeter. With the help of Robin Gold and residents of Aspen Lakes, enough funds were collected to purchase Pete, and the pair will, hopefully, become part of the Trumpeter Swan Recovery program.

According to Gold and the Cyrus family, the success of the program will result in a vital contribution to the growth of the species throughout the bird's range.

Aspen Lakes residents and visitors can enjoy observing the adult swans and offspring. The adults' wings are clipped so they're permanent residents, but the offspring will not have their wings clipped, so they can eventually be released to the wild.

The Cyrus family purchased two pairs of swans at separate times when the Aspen Lakes community was originally developed. Unfortunately, three of the four swans are now deceased, and the surviving swan, the Cyrus's beloved Eloise, is estimated to be in her late teens.

The Cyrus family has allowed the use of the large pond to be the nesting site and have allowed Eloise to be a part of the program.

Pete was successfully released into the pond Friday morning, March 23, where he and Eloise seem to have hit it off. They may have offspring this year, but it will more likely be next year before everyone can expect to see a family of swans.

Trumpeter swans are the largest waterfowl species in North America. They have a wingspan of seven feet and stand about four feet tall. Most trumpeters weigh in at about 21 to 30 pounds, and the males tend to be the larger. The male is called a cob, the female is a pen and the babies are cygnets, and may live 20 to 30 years in the wild.

Hunting for meat, skins and feathers reduced the once-widespread trumpeter swan population to 69 known individuals in 1935. Hunting them is now illegal throughout the United States.

Despite nearly becoming extinct in the early 20th century, trumpeters have rebounded and their numbers are increasing. However, they are still, officially, a fragile species and are classified as a Conservation Strategy Species, a Sensitive Species and a Protected Wildlife Species in the state of Oregon.

Continued threats to the species include habitat loss, lead poisoning, striking power lines and occasional shooting, such as the shooting of the Sunriver male and the killing of trumpeters last year in ODFW's Summer Lake Wildlife Management Area. The swans are also extremely sensitive to human disturbance at their breeding sites and may abandon nests and cygnets if disturbed.

Swans need to swim nearly constantly to reduce pressure on bones, joints and vital organs, since they are such large birds. A bubbler has been purchased and installed in the north end of the Aspen Lakes pond to ensure there is an ice-free area all winter.

A swan feeder is designed to let the swans self-feed on demand but doesn't give visiting geese and ducks access to supplemental food. Also, the automatic feeder reduces the association of food with humans for the swans.

In order to achieve optimal results, the trumpeter swan recovery program relies heavily on the cooperation of neighborhood residents and visitors. Both Gold and the Cyrus family urge visitors to follow these guidelines:

• The swans are not pets. Do not attempt to befriend them to become human companions. To enhance their chance for survival, it is particularly important to keep any cygnets as wild as possible.

• Do not feed the swans - ever. They'll be on a specially formulated diet and fed through an automatic feeder to prevent association with humans for food.

• Do not let dogs near the pond. The swans (adult and juvenile) have an acute fear of coyotes to ensure survival. Your pet dog may not be a threat to the swans, but it may well look like a coyote to a swan. Seeing friendly Fido splash around the pond would likely start a series of events that would become a disaster for the trumpeter family.

• If you see something, say something. If you notice people or animals harassing the swans, or any unusual behavior, contact Rob or Howie in the Aspen Lakes Pro Shop at 541-549-4653 or Rob's mobile at 541-213-0788

When asked how the Cyruses think things will go, Connie Cyrus gave a big smile and said, "We are looking forward to partnering with The Trumpeter Swan Society, and hopefully, we will have some cygnets swimming around the pond soon."









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