To the sorrow of the Griggs family and the Buena Vista County Trumpeter Swan Program members our Early/Schaller resident female trumpeter swan, named Lil by the Schaller elementary school students in March of 1999, was found deceased this past February on the shoreline of her pond. Her discovery brought no telltale signs of predication nor were there any markings on the bird herself. She appeared as if she were just sleeping. Her demise remains a mystery to the group.
Lil has been passed on to the Buena Vista County Conservation Department to be utilized in the future as a teaching instrument to surrounding elementary schools.
Following the incident, a search was immediately conducted to find a new mate as her replacement. An adult female trumpeter swan is not a common purchase anywhere in the immediate vicinity so a statewide alert was issued to locate another bird.
To our delight, we located a perfect specimen on the shores of the Mississippi River near Davenport in Illinois and on February 23 of this year, a 5-year-old unmated female trumpeter was purchased and brought home for release at the Griggs site. Initially the shy bird found Phil, our much older swan, very offensive and she could not stay far enough away from his advances, but within a week of pure loneliness, she allowed him to at least stand next to her while she was pruning herself. Of course, Phil, the home resident male swan, fell in love immediately with this bombshell of a swan at first sight and required no time to become better acquainted. He embarrassed himself during this brief courtship.
In many cases, this forced pairing of birds is not always successful and may result in no mating events for many years to come.
Swans like people would rather pick out their own mate. In this case however Phoebe, remember 'Friends' the ever so popular TV sitcom, began her incubation period on May 26 and hatched out three new cygnets on the morning of Wednesday, June 30.
The happy family is currently spending its relaxing summer days lounging around the pond and picking up some rays. By fall these same small critters will be nearly 3/4 grown and have picked up nearly 20 lbs. in body weight. At this time the cygnets will be separated from their parents and placed on the Hwy 71 pond to spend the up coming winter months. Assuming everything goes as planned, and certainly there are no guarantees, the cygnets will then be placed in the wild during the spring of 2005.
At this printing, the local swan organization will have released over 40 birds into the wild. For an at risk species, this is quite an accomplishment in such a short period.
A complete update of 2004 nesting results may raise this number to over the 50 mark.
As rewarding as this program is to our local conservation minded people, its continued success hinges on you, the public's generosity, in supporting the program's needs. Contributions through monetary donations are always required to keep the program afloat.
Your tax deductible donation can be sent directly to the Buena Vista County Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program, PO Box 1234, Storm Lake, IA 50588. Additional revenue to the program can be generated by the purchase of swan clothing and logo designs from Silk Screen Ink of Storm Lake.