Trumpeter Swans and Montana’s Common Loon

By Elaine Caton, Swan Restoration Coordinator Written for the Montana Loon Society‘s 2021 Newsletter In 2005, the Blackfoot Challenge in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service began an effort to restore Trumpeter Swans to the Blackfoot watershed. Since, we have released over 200 young captive-raised trumpeters in the Ovando-Helmville area, and have established […]

SwanBlog Update: Keep Calm and Paddle On

By Elaine Caton, Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program Coordinator In spite of a worldwide pandemic and all the associated changes to human life that have gone with it, I’m happy to report that our Trumpeter Swans have kept calm and carried on with normal swan life in the Blackfoot.  Although we only had six pairs of […]

Tracking Swan Movements

By Elaine Caton, Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program Coordinator In July we captured two non-nesting adult swans in the Blackfoot and fitted them with very lightweight collars with GPS units. These collars transmit locations to us via cell service, and they have already given us lots of valuable information about the swans.  We have been able […]

Ups and Downs

By Elaine Caton, Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program Coordinator This past spring saw quite a few days of cool, wet weather in the Blackfoot, which seemed to affect our swan productivity this year. There were six known nesting attempts, five of which were successful, producing a total of twelve cygnets. This is a bit fewer than […]

Snow Geese Scouts

Many Blackfoot residents have noticed the unusually high numbers of Snow Geese (along with swans and ducks) in the watershed this year, and that they have been staying around longer than in other years.  We’ve thought it likely that they were piling up here where there has been at least a little open water and […]

Swans in the Blackfoot: Trumpeters or Tundras?

This time of year, as well as in the fall, I have to take a close look at–or listen to–any swans I see, to know which species I’m observing. While we are now fortunate enough to have a fairly robust summer population of Trumpeter Swans in the middle and upper Blackfoot, we also have migrating […]

Swans in the Ruby Valley

By Elaine Caton, Swan Restoration Program Coordinator On January 19, I made my annual trip to the Ruby River Valley in southwest Montana to look for wintering Blackfoot swans. I usually try to time my trip during a cold snap so that I have a greater chance of finding swans concentrated in a few areas […]

Summer Swan Roundup

Where’s the best place to be in a hot, smoky summer of fires?  A wetland, of course! While the rest of us were sweating and fretting, our swans seem to have fared just fine in spite of some major fires that burned in the surrounding mountains. Nineteen of the twenty cygnets that hatched in May and June […]

A New Generation of Swans

It seems that every year is a little different for Trumpeter Swans in the Blackfoot, and this year is no exception! At least 36 swans returned to the watershed this spring, including a record number of 13 pairs. There are also two groups of yearlings from last year’s nests around, and one yearling that was […]

Blackfoot Swans in good winter hands

In late January I made my annual pilgrimage to the Ruby River valley in southwestern Montana to look for wintering Blackfoot swans. Many of the trumpeters banded and released in the Blackfoot fly only as far south as the Ruby Valley for the winter, near the towns of Sheridan, Twin Bridges, and Alder.  Warm springs […]