Wild swans are currently winging their way through Utah. Both tundra swans and trumpeter swans, which are more rarely seen, stop in Utah’s wetlands for some much-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.
You can see the birds, and learn more about them, at two free events hosted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources during this year’s Wild Swan Day on March 14. The events will be held at two waterfowl management areas in northern Utah: the Salt Creek WMA, southwest of Tremonton, and at the Farmington Bay WMA, located at 1325 W. Glovers Lane in Farmington.
Salt Creek event
The Salt Creek WMA viewing event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Compton’s Knoll, a small hill on the northeast side of the WMA.
While swans should be visible at both areas, you can often get a closer look at the Salt Creek viewing site.
“At Farmington Bay, the swans are sometimes a bit far from the viewing site,” Mark Hadley, DWR regional conservation outreach manager, said. “That wasn’t the case last year, though. We had a big group of swans about 100 yards from the viewing area.”
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.
“If you’ve never seen swans in the wild before, you need to come to the event,” Hadley said. “Swans are gorgeous, graceful birds. And you’ll have no problem spotting them: they’re huge and almost pure white in color.”
Spotting scopes will be available so you can get a close look at the swans. If you have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, though, you should bring them to the event. DWR staff and volunteers from Wasatch Audubon will be available to answer any questions that you may have about the birds.
To reach the Salt Creek WMA, exit I-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 until you reach 6800 North. Turn left and head west on 6800 North for about 3.5 miles. Just as you leave the pavement, turn right to reach the Compton’s Knoll wildlife viewing area.
Farmington Bay event
The Farmington Bay event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Managers will scout the area and then set spotting scopes up at the best location to see swans.
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 located at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way. The 30-minute presentations — which explain where the swans came from, why they stop in Utah and where they’re migrating to — will be offered at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. You can also take your kids into the center’s Wetland Discovery classroom, where they can make their own paper swan.
To get a preview of what you can expect during the DWR swan viewing events, visit the DWR YouTube Channel.
Bird Refuge event
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also holding a swan viewing event in northern Utah on March 14 at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge near Brigham City. To learn more about the event, visit their website.