The Trumpeter swan was extirpated from Eastern Canada over 200 years ago. In the early 1980s, a reintroduction program was started in co-operation with the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre near Midland, Ontario. The program has been highly successful, and the Ontario population now exceeds over 1000 birds. Trumpeter swans migrate north in the spring for nesting and raise their young in shallow marshes and beaver ponds. But where many of them go to nest in south-central Ontario is a mystery.
There have been scattered reports of swans nesting further north into the Parry Sound and North Bay areas. However, these reports only account for a small number of swans known to migrate into southcentral Ontario. In 2010, EGBSC was asked to participate in a Trumpeter Swan survey conducted by Harry Lumsden, the Coordinator of the Ontario Trumpeter Swan Program. A flight survey was carried out to see if Trumpeter Swans were nesting in any isolated and secluded wetlands and beaver ponds from Severn Sound to Parry Sound. The presence of adult birds or adults with cygnets (swans born in the spring) was used as an indicator of likely nesting activity. Georgian Bay Airways in Parry Sound provided the aircraft, and the search area was completed from Parry Sound to the open waters of Georgian Bay in the west, the southern shore of Severn Sound in the south and the CPR rail line and Hwy 400 to the east. EGBSC also sent a call out for volunteers to conduct their own surveys. Volunteers were asked to note the location of any bird, pair nest or brood size, and the date it was observed.
During the flight survey, a total of 22 adult birds were observed during the flight:
- 10 in Wye Marsh
- at Hog Bay
- in Matchedash Bay
- in the North River in the vicinity of Lovering
- in Gloucester Pool and
- 2 in an unnamed wetland just east of Gibson Lake.
Although no swans were sighted north of the search area, many wetlands and beaver complexes provide suitable nesting habitat.