New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

ConservationPosted 8/5/08
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DEC Asks for Help with a Statewide Mute Swan Count (August 2008)
by Bryan Swift

Every 3 years, DEC conducts a Mid-summer Mute Swan Survey to assess the population status of this non-native species.  Efforts are coordinated with other Atlantic Flyway states to help evaluate the need for and success of management efforts.  Although many people enjoy viewing mute swans, wildlife agencies are concerned that the growing number of swans will result in adverse impacts to other wildlife and create new conflicts with human interests.

DEC normally conducts the tri-annual Mute San survey without much volunteer assistance.  However, to ensure as complete a count as possible, DEC has invited ornithologists, birders, and others to help out by reporting counts of swans from any area of New York State.  Counts need to be made during August, preferably during August 4-24, which covers the peak molting period for Mute Swans in New York.  Counts should only be reported if they are believed to include all the swans in a given area, such as a lake, bay or fairly discrete section of shoreline.

DEC counts have totaled more than 2,500 birds in the past, and the Breeding Bird Atlas project documented a dramatic range expansion in upstate New York since the 1980s.  This year’s count will help determine where population growth is still occurring. 

To contribute to the statewide count, simply send an e-mail or letter to Bryan Swift, DEC’s Game Bird Unit, at the address below.  Be sure to include: date and location (county, town, name of area) of count; total number of Mute Swans present; how many broods and cygnets (young-of-the-year, usually distinguished by their smaller size and gray or brown coloration) were included in the total; and a general description of the habitat (natural pond, city park pond, tidal creek, salt marsh, etc).

Sightings of Trumpeter Swans, which have a straighter neck and an all black bill (without the conspicuous orange knob), would be appreciated also.  This species is much less common, but small numbers have become established in New York in recent years, mostly in the Lake Ontario region.

Thank you for your interest and assistance with this survey.  Visit the DEC website for more information about Mute Swans in New York.

Bryan L. Swift, Leader
Game Bird Unit
NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4754
(518) 402-8866

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