Track a Trumpeter

Trumpeter Swans in Iowa

Tyler with swan Prior to European settlement, the Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) was common in Iowa and nested throughout the state.  However, by 1883, this iconic bird was extirpated from the state largely due to unregulated hunting and habitat destruction for agricultural development (Iowa Department of Natural Resources [IDNR] 2016).  In 1993, the IDNR initiated a restoration program with a goal of re-establishing 15 nesting pairs to Iowa by 2003.  In 1998, the first wild pair of Trumpeter Swans in more than 100 years successfully nested in eastern Iowa, a success that would continue to 1999 and 2000.  By 2010, the IDNR recorded a total of 42 nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans in Iowa.  This restoration program stands as one of the most successful conservation stories in Iowa.

Collar on SwansDespite successful efforts to restore nesting Trumpeter Swans in Iowa, little is known about movements of these birds in Iowa and beyond. In 2016, Dr. Stephen J. Dinsmore with Iowa State University and Tyler M. Harms with the Iowa DNR partnered to study the  movements of Trumpeter Swans in Iowa. GPS tracking provides continuous data points through time and allows researchers to understand bird movements during various life stages (e.g., migration and breeding). This project provides us the unique opportunity to study juvenile Trumpeter Swan movements during the post fledging period. Data collected through this effort will be analyzed by ornithology students at Iowa State University as part of an exercise on bird movements. We also plan to share findings widely in the hope that it helps us understand swan movements more generally.

This project would not be possible without the following sponsors:  Iowa State University Trumpeter Swan Restoration Committee, Carolyn J. Fischer, The Trumpeter Swan Society, Friends of Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Blank Park Zoo, and Chickasaw County Conservation Board.  We are grateful for our partnerships with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make this project successful. And thank you to those who donated their time to help with the captures!


Swan processingWatch how swans are taken care of and about the research done about swans in the Natural Resource Ecology Management department on the ISU NREM YouTube Channel




Swan release

Watch a swan be released by researchers from the Natural Resource Ecology and Management department. on the ISU NREM YouTube Channel




SwanBanding location
Swan #1901Private wetland, Boone Co.
Swan #1902Maynard Reece WPA, Kossuth Co.
Swan #1801Gladfelter Marsh, Hancock Co.
Swan #1802Zirbel Slough, Cerro Gordo Co.
Swan #1803Hanlontown Slough, Worth Co.
Swan #1804Hanlontown Slough, Worth Co.
Swan #1701Anderson Lake, Hamilton Co.
Swan #1702Otter Creek Marsh, Tama Co.
Swan #1703Union Slough NWR, Kossuth Co.
Swan #1704Maynard Reece WPA, Kossuth Co.
Swan #1705Eagle Flats WPA, Hancock Co.
Swan #1706Private wetland, Boone Co.
Swan #1707Sandpiper Hills WMA, Cerro Gordo Co.
Swan #1708Hanlontown Slough, Worth Co.
Swan #1709Pilot Knob Rec. Area, Winnebago Co.