Every year, from November to March, the sounds of trumpeter and tundra swans fill the Washington air as they land from their long winter migration. Unfortunately, a portion of swans are injured by power lines or cars. Some even die from lead poisoning because they accidentally ingest lead shot from hunters. The lead mixes in among plants, so when swans go to eat grass, they consume lead as well.

As these majestic birds return, the Whatcom Humane Society gears up for what they call “swan season.”

“The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with Puget Sound Energy and Snohomish Public Utility District, employ a swan biologist who does everything ‘swan’,” says Alysha Evans, manager of Whatcom Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. “This person is in charge of monitoring the swan hotline (360.466.4345 ext. 266), responding to all injured and deceased swans, overall swan monitoring, and transport.”

In 2018, 124 injured trumpeter swans were brought to the Humane Society. There, the swans received care, including exams, blood tests, medications, splints, and whatever else they might need. Before the swans are released back into the wild, large collars are put on the birds to track their movement.

“If someone should see a collared or banded bird, please [notify] the Bird Banding Lab at reportband.gov to report the sighting,” Evans says. “By doing this, the public is significantly contributing to monitoring these birds. The Bird Banding Lab will then send out a certificate to the caller with all of the information for that swan!”

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