March 8, 2010 in City

Tundra swans on migration make Inland Northwest stops

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Bill Morlin photo

Tundra swans stop Sunday at Calispell Lake near Usk in Pend Oreille County.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Tundra swans are moving through the Inland Northwest on their annual migration from wintering grounds in the western U.S. to the marshes of western Alaska.

The swans are stopping at various locations in the Inland Northwest, and were seen Sunday at Calispell Lake near Usk in Pend Oreille County.

Thousands of the birds make their way along waterways of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Look for swans in the chain lakes area of the lower Coeur d’Alene River, wetlands near Cheney and Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, the Colville River Valley and Swanson Lakes Wildlife Refuge near Creston.

Spokesman-Review outdoor writer and editor Rich Landers reported from his sources that about 3,000 tundra swans were counted in the lower Coeur d’Alene chain lakes area on Tuesday in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service waterfowl survey.

The birds are wary of intruders, but will not take flight if approached from a distance. Their noisy calls give them away.

The western population of tundra swans typically winters on the Great Salt Lake in Utah, in central California and in coastal areas from Portland north to Vancouver, B.C.

Their migration northward along inland routes occurs at the end of winter, but the birds’ return flights in the fall are oriented west of the Cascades.

For those who want to view the swans up close, an annual Tundra Swan Day is planned for March 20 at 10 a.m. starting at the Kalispel Camas Center on LeClerc Road on the Kalispel tribal reservation northeast of Usk.

Buses will carry registrants the short distance to Calispell Lake to view the birds from a privately owned duck club. Plenty of geese and other waterfowl are on the lake as well, and the area is known for blue herons and bald eagles.

Lunch will be served on the return, and swan experts will talk about the migration. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for those younger than 13.

For more information or to register, call (509) 447-5286, or go to the Pend Oreille River Tourism Alliance at porta-us.com.

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