Wild swans are winging their way through Utah

Swans will stop in Utah for most of March as they make their way from California to Canada, but March 9 is Wild Swan Day and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has planned a couple of viewing events.
Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

It would be a drive for people in southeastern Utah, but March 9 is Wild Swan Day and it is a great day to get outside and see tundra swans, said the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in a statement.

Both tundra swans and trumpeter swans, which are more rarely seen, stop in Utah’s wetlands for critically needed rest and refueling during their annual spring migration. The migration takes the swans from wintering grounds in California to nesting sites in Canada and Alaska.

The Division of Wildlife Resources hosts the free event, which will be held at two DWR waterfowl management areas: Salt Creek, southwest of Tremonton, and Farmington Bay, southwest of Farmington.

Mark Hadley, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, said viewing runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. “If you attend the event, you’ll likely see and hear thousands of tundra swans and maybe even a few of the more rarely seen trumpeter swans,” he said.

If you’ve never seen swans in the wild before, you need to come to the event. Swans are gorgeous, graceful birds. And you’ll have no problem spotting them: they’re huge and almost pure white in color.

Mark Hadley, regional conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Hadley says spotting scopes will be available so people can get a close look at the swans. “If you have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, though, please bring them with you,” he said. “DWR staff and volunteers from Wasatch Audubon will be available to answer your questions.”

In addition to seeing and hearing swans, if you attend the event at Farmington Bay, you can learn more about the birds at presentations at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center, 1157 South Waterfowl Way. The 30-minute presentations, which will discuss where the swans came from, why they stop in Utah and where they’re going, will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Attendees can also take their kids into the center’s Wetlands Discovery classroom, where they can make their own paper swan, said Hadley.

In addition to the two DWR viewing sites, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is holding a swan viewing event the same day at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The refuge is west of Brigham City, said Hadley.

Viewing at the Salt Creek WMA will happen at Compton’s Knoll, a small hill on the northeast side of the WMA. From the knoll, you can scan the entire marsh.

At the Farmington Bay WMA, managers will scout the area and then set up spotting scopes at the best location to see swans.

At the Farmington Bay WMA, managers will scout the area and then set up spotting scopes at the best location to see swans.

Those who can’t attend the March 9 event shouldn’t fret. Swans should stay in Utah through most of March. Compton’s Knoll at the Salt Creek WMA is always a great place to see swans. The 12-mile auto tour route at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is also a good choice, said Hadley.

To reach the Compton’s Knoll viewing area at the Salt Creek WMA, exit Interstate 15 at exit 365 and travel west on state Route 83 through Corinne. Stay on SR-83 until you get to 6800 West (Iowa String). Turn right on 6800 West, and travel north to 6800 North. Turn left on 6800 North, and travel west for about 3.5 miles. The Compton’s Knoll Watchable Wildlife site will be on your left side. The Farmington Bay WMA is at 1325 W. Glovers Lane in Farmington.