Ken Danelski, who lives on Wisconsin side of the St. Louis River near Minnesota Highway 23, shared this photograph he took Monday morning just outside his home. The birds are trumpeter swans, and one of them wears a band on its neck, indicating it has been part of a program to reintroduce the species, said Duluth birder Laura Erickson.
Danelski, who has lived on the river for many years, said it’s unusual to see the swans on the river at this time of the year. They landed near a patch of open water, which is also unusual for that part of the river at this time of year, Danelski said. Last summer’s flooding caused a lot of change in the river bed, he said, creating large gravel bars in some places and gouging channels in other areas. There are areas of the river that have remained ice-free all winter, Danelski said, something he had not seen in previous years.
Trumpeter swans are among the largest of North American swans at 60 inches in length, with wingspans of 80 inches, according to “The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America.” The guide says the call of a trumpeter swan is a “gentle nasal honking, like the sound of a French horn.”