HUNTSVILLE - Ron Tozer isn’t sure what’s going to happen to the trumpeter swan that has returned to Huntsville for his ninth winter.
Muskoka River birds must find new food source.
TRUMPETER RETURNS: The volunteers at Huntsville’s Christmas bird count have confirmed the return of this swan for his ninth winter in town.
The swan doesn’t seem to have ever found a mate and a reliable food source has disappeared in the death of regular feeder, George Knochelmann, in 2011.
The Knochelmanns have been feeding high quality corn to birds from their upholstery shop on the Muskoka River for at least 11 years.
But George died last December and his widow, Vlasta, couldn’t keep up with the feeding.
“We had 300 at a time when the river practically froze over,” said Vlasta. “When they saw George they used to just fly in.”
Tozer assured Vlasta that even though she isn’t feeding the birds, they will find other food sources.
“There are other people that feed along the river and we don’t know how much food it gets from the river,” he said of the swan, adding that he suspects the other feeders will pump up their donations to the winter diet of the birds.
According to Tozer, trumpeter swans were reintroduced to Ontario using captive birds as breeding stock.
The swan that returns to Huntsville every winter is identified by its leg band number and a noticeable bill injury.
The swan hatched in 1999 and was released at Lake Scugog northeast of Toronto on June 24, 2001. It was observed on the Gull River near Minden in March, 2002, and showed up at Long Park Lake in Algonquin in May of the same year. He was then spotted in Dwight during the winter of that year.
He has spent the last eight winters in the open water of the Muskoka River in Huntsville but his whereabouts in summer are unknown. The 18th annual Huntsville Christmas bird count was held on Wednesday, Dec. 14. Tozer, the count compiler, said that temperatures were above freezing all day, there was very little snow on the ground, and all bodies of water were open. Light rain began at 3 p.m. but had minimal effect on the results.
The Huntsville group joined birders across the western hemisphere to participate in North America’s longest-running wintertime birding tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count.
This year, over 2,200 individual
counts were scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.
“Each Christmas Bird Count volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Dick Cannings, the Bird
Studies Canada Christmas Bird Count co-ordinator.
“Bird Studies Canada and
our partners at Audubon rely on data from the count database to inform a myriad of analyses regarding both bird conservation and climate change.”
The total species counted by the 18 volunteers in Huntsville was 44, which ties for the second highest in the history of the count. The average number of species counted is 39.
There were 3,365 individual birds counted, compared with the average of 3,061.
Other noteworthy species in the count include a ring-necked duck, two white-winged scoters, two long-tailed ducks, a red-necked grebe, six red-tailed hawks and a red-winged blackbird.
There were a variety of finches but their numbers were low except for goldfinch, according to Tozer.