US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Vrtiska, Mark & Shilo Comeau. 2009. TRUMPETER SWAN SURVEY of the HIGH PLAINS FLOCK, INTERIOR POPULATION, pp. 1 - 13.


U. S. government work.


Re-introduction of trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) at Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) began in the early 1960s to restore extirpated populations that existed in this region prior to settlement (Monnie 1966). Cygnets from Red Rock Lakes NWR were translocated to Lacreek to establish the High Plains (formerly, Lacreek) flock of the Interior Population. Since then, the number of birds comprising the High Plains flock has increased steadily and their range has expanded. Swans are now commonly observed throughout most of the western and parts of the eastern Sandhills of Nebraska (Fig. 1).

Prior to the winter of 2005, aerial surveys were conducted by staff stationed at Lacreek NWR to quantify the number swans in the High Plains flock. Beginning in 2005, in coordination with the annual Mid-Winter Survey (MWS, Blohm 1989), counts of trumpeter swans were obtained in accordance with management plans for these swans (Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge 1982, Subcommittee on the Interior Population of Trumpeter Swans 1997), and the special swan surveys conducted by Lacreek staff were discontinued. The current management plan for this flock (Comeau-Kingfisher and Koerner 2005) specifies population objectives and management strategies for monitoring population status. Winter surveys are conducted annually to assess wintering-ground abundance and distribution of swans.