March 15, 2009 in Outdoors

Turnbull trumpets return of senior swan

Rich Landers I Outdoors Editor
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

This swan has been returning to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge for at least 33 years.
(Full-size photo)

Solo is back.

The elegant trumpeter swan is likely the elder seasonal wildlife resident at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, and one of the oldest documented anywhere among his endangered species.

For decades, Solo – as I have come to call him – has returned each spring to Turnbull. He’s flown high with the success of raising a family and suffered the lows of losing several mates. But Turnbull continues to be his home as soon as the ice comes off in March and he stays until freeze-up.

He returned this year during the first week of March, although the recent big chill may have sent him packing.

Refuge biologists suspect Solo winters fairly close to the refuge, since he has always returned at the first hint of open water, flying up the creek near the refuge headquarters trumpeting away as if to say, “I’m baaack!”

Banding studies have documented Solo to be at least 33 years old, but he could be one of the first trumpeters introduced to the refuge as cygnets in 1963.

That would make him on the verge of 36.

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