Phenology Files: October 2021

phenology \ fi-ˈnä-lə-jē \ n 1 : a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering) 2: periodic biological phenomena that are correlated with climatic conditions.

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

The Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) that arrive every year to overwinter in the Dungeness Valley undoubtedly have no idea how lucky they are. Once on the brink of extinction in the early 20th century, North America’s largest waterfowl have experienced a healthy comeback and the 200 or so birds that visit the North Olympic Peninsula are part of that success. The area’s pastures, wetlands, ponds, and fields are ideal for roosting, foraging, and loafing.

Swans in the Dungeness Valley are particularly fortunate in that they’re the beneficiaries of organized and concerted efforts to make their habitat safe while they’re here.

Before and after powerline burial by Kirner Pond in Sequim/John GussmanThe Trumpeter 

Since 2011, the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Northwest Swan Conservation Association, has conducted a weekly swan survey and collected data on the birds’ health and habitat.

For its part, the Land Trust has been involved in conserving a number of properties that provide critical habitat for these seasonal visitors.

Most recently, a cohort of public entities, private groups, and individuals came together for a project to bury powerlines by Kirner Pond near Woodcock Road in Sequim that were creating a hazard when the swans took flight. The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, Clallam County PUD, Clallam County Road Department, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, WaveCable, and countless individuals made it happen: in September the last powerline came down.

There’s now one less threat to these beautiful birds, and another reminder of the power of communities creating partnerships to solve problems, conserve habitat, and protect the lands that we all love.