By Lyle Bradley
Would you like to share your backyard with a family of trumpeter swans? It will be exciting, rewarding and awesome. At times only a few feet will separate observer and swans. They are pure white, the largest waterfowl in the world and mate for life. They are a native bird but were exterminated from Minnesota by 1840. Trumpeter swans are making a comeback thanks to the non-game division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The spring and summer of 2017 has been very special since this pair of swans selected our oxbow pond for their nest. Our binoculars, pens and minds have received much use. When they hatched their five cygnets (young) our interest was sky-high. It was probably the first swans ever produced along the Rum River in Andover.
We named the parents Jack and Jill. In swan language the male is the cob and the female is the pen. These birds can handle about any predator.
Now that they had five cygnets to care for, the worst problem was losing a youngster in the dense cattails due to some people over-fertilizing lawns and allowing chemicals into the wetlands where they produce excessive, damaging vegetation.
We are fortunate to live in an area with many species of wildlife. Besides the swans, our backyard has recorded 233 species of birds, otter, beaver, wolves, coyote, both species of fox, black pear, puma, all the arboreal squirrels and a wolverine. Compared to all the species of wildlife, the most exciting and interesting is the family of trumpeter swans we see every day.
We know by the many visits of people that swans touch a special aspect of our human outlook. To get close to wild creatures and watch them train their offspring touches our humanity. Birders, teachers, photographers, friends and neighbors all seem to like with they see and hear. It seems to be an especially good time to share these experiences with youth of all ages.