Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trumpeter Swan Released

On December 21st, 2012, the Kathryn G. Favre Wildlife Hospital received a call from the Missouri Department of Conservation to see if we could take an injured Trumpeter Swan. 

The swan is a juvenile – about a year old – juveniles have some dark streaks in their feathering.  Adult Trumpeter Swans are snow white.  The swan was found at Columbia Bottoms Conservation area with another swan that was already dead.  Both swans had been shot.
 Sanctuary Manager, Joe Hoffmann and the young Trumpeter Swan
The Trumpeter Swan is listed as a rare species of conservation concern, with current estimated populations of about 5,000 throughout the mid-west.  They are not a hunted waterfowl species and are protected by law.  It is illegal to shoot Trumpeter Swans. 

The area where the birds were found is a waterfowl hunting area, but it is considered easy to distinguish a Trumpeter Swan from ducks and snow geese – they are much bigger and have very distinctive coloring.  The Trumpeter Swan is considered the DC10 of birds because of their large size!
 This young bird weighed 22 lbs.
This young swan weighed about 22lbs – nice and plump.  The heaviest flying bird in the world is found in Africa – the Kori Bustard – weighing in at up to 42lbs! 

MDC conservation agents brought the swan to the World Bird Sanctuary, where we stabilized it with medication and fluids.  The swan had lost a lot of blood and also had internal bleeding.  Two large pellets had lodged in its skull – one in the nasal cavity and one in the brain.  Every three hours, for two days, the swan was given fluids and large doses of antibiotics and steroids to aid in recovery.  The internal bleeding stopped after the second day and, exceeding all expectations, the youngster started eating on its own and drinking out of a large bucket of water.

 We were initially concerned about brain damage but its behavior was normal and it seemed to like looking out of the window near it's inside rehab cage.  The x-rays showed that the swan's legs and wings were untouched by the shotgun pellets, so we moved towards a quick release.
 Joe Hoffmann releasing this young Swan back into the wild
On the early morning of January 3rd, 2013, we released this juvenile Trumpeter Swan back to the wild at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary near West Alton, Missouri. 
 The young Trumpeter Swan back where he belongs
There were about 300 other Trumpeter Swans nearby and they honked at each other before the release.  It seemed non-dramatic as the swan paddled away to meet its friends, but this was the first Trumpeter Swan that I have released in 23 years at World Bird Sanctuary!  Walter Crawford, our Founder and Executive Director, remembers one other time when we were able to successfully return a Trumpeter Swan to the wild.

Special thanks are due to our vets, Dr. Stacey Schaeffer and Dr. Eric Siebel-Spath at St. Louis Hills Veterinary Clinic, for acting quickly to save this beautiful swan.

Submitted by Joe Hoffmann, Sanctuary Manager for the World Bird Sanctuary

1 comment:

Ruth Mitchell said...

Fabulous outcome!!! So happy for that handsome handsome swan!!