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Tundra swans have made the return flight across east-central Wisconsin as hundreds of the majestic, white birds begin to arrive in Outagamie County. Best spots to see swans are along State 54 from Oneida to New London, as well as on the west shore of Lake Winnebago. / Rob Zimmer/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
A group of tundra swans rests in a flooded field near Bear Creek on their long journey back to their breeding grounds in northern Canada and Alaska. / Rob Zimmer/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

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Over the past few days nearly 1,000 swans have been counted in the fields and wetlands in central Outagamie County from Black Creek to New London. Thousands more will pass through in several different waves over the next week or so.

The tundra swan, a smaller cousin of the resident trumpeter swans that breed here in Wisconsin, travel through the state during spring and again during fall on their continent-wide journeys that take them northwest into Alaska and northern Canada where they breed. During fall, they wing southeast, to the Atlantic coast, where they spend the winter months.

Thousands of tundra swans make the journey east across the state during spring as they skip across the Great Lakes and then swing north to the tundra. In normal years, they may stage on Green Bay for a few weeks before continuing their journey, however, this year, the bay is still frozen solid.

The swans began arriving a few weeks ago in small numbers. Over the weekend, they arrived in much larger flocks, as strong southeast winds gave them an easy ride across Lake Michigan and into our area.

While it may appear as though the swans remain here for weeks at a time, what we are really seeing is successive groups of migrating swans training across the area. Most remain just a day or two before continuing to the northwest, replaced by the next incoming group. The swans follow each other across the Midwest during late March and early April.

Swans can be viewed in many locations in our area, including Horicon Marsh, all along the west shore of Lake Winnebago, wherever there is open water, Rat River Wildlife Area, Lake Butte des Morts, Collins Marsh, Killsnake Wildlife Area, Brillion Wildlife Area, as well as all along the flooded Wolf River bottomlands, as well as its tributaries. Large numbers gather in the Stevens Point area as well, especially along open water on the Wisconsin River and in flooded agricultural fields.

Easy viewing of groups of swans feeding in fields can be seen all along the State 54 corridor from Oneida to New London.

Swans move about mainly at sunrise and sunset, from roosting areas on open water out to and from the waste grain fields in which they feed throughout the day.

Browse sandhill crane, prairie chicken, snowy owl, pelican, loon, goose, eagle, whooping crane, tundra swan, heron, turkey, cardinal, blue jay, woodpecker, hummingbird and other bird photos.

Rob Zimmer: 920-419-3734, yardmd@postcrescent.com

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