There are trumpeter swans in Arkansas?


You might be surprised to learn that Arkansas has a group of very vocal trumpeter swans who spend each winter on Magness Lake near Heber Springs, Arkansas.

We think of Trumpeter Swans as a northern bird. And they typically are. In fact, they rarely migrate any farther south than Ohio.

However, there is a group of intrepid trumpeter swans who spend every winter in north central Arkansas.

It is a unique sight for southerners, and therefore it is a big deal when the swans begin arriving. They even have their own facebook page called Trumpeter Swans in Arkansas where locals can post pictures and let each other know when the swans arrive.

Swans on lake. Swans in Arkansas. Swans over-winter on Magness Lake near the town of Heber Springs.Pin

Where Can You see the Trumpeter Swans in Arkansas?

Originally the swans were only on Magness Lake which is a 30 acre oxbow lake near Heber Springs, Arkansas. Over the last few years, as their population has grown, they have begun to occupy some of the other lakes in the area.

The two best places to see the swans are:

  • Magness Lake near Heber Springs off of Hays Road (Magness Lake will come up in your GPS)
  • The lakes off Hiram Road: 2560 Hiram Rd Wilburn, Arkansas 72179 There are two ponds in this area, on the same side of the road, about 1/4 mile apart.

It is important to remember that all of these viewing areas are on private property. The owners kindly allow people to come to view the swans, but please remember to be respectful of the property.

At Magness Lake there is a parking area and the lake is behind a fence.

At the lakes off of Hiram road you will see small signs simply saying “swans.” There is a place to park here as well, but no fence which makes it a bit easier to take photos.

If you see the owners at either location be sure to thank them for allowing us to be able to view these magnificent birds!

Swans taking off flying. swans in Arkansas. Swans over-winter on Magness Lake near the town of Heber Springs.Pin

You might be interested in learning more about North Central Arkansas and the lovely little town of Heber Springs.

What Time of Year do the Swans Arrive?

There is not an exact date that the birds come to town. It all depends on the weather up north.

However, the swans typically begin showing up in small groups in late November. Keep checking the swan facebook page to find out when they arrive.

When do the Swans Leave?

The swans begin departing in small groups sometime in February.

Why is This Group of Swans in Arkansas?

Three swans arrived on Magness Lake for the first time in the winter of 1991. This was considerably south of their normal winter range in the Midwest.

Nobody knows exactly why they came here, but the theory is that they were blown off course by a bad storm, found themselves in Arkansas, saw the lake and decided to give it a try.

After they left nobody was sure if they would return.

But they did.

The next year a few more swans showed up. Since then the population has grown every year. Today there are hundreds of swans that over-winter near Heber Springs.

Swan flapping wings. swans in Arkansas. Swans over-winter on Magness Lake near the town of Heber Springs.Pin

Best Tips For Seeing the Swans

  • The swans tend to be out flying around to feed in other area lakes during the day. The best time to see them is in the late afternoon.
  • The only recommended feed is shelled corn.
  • Visitors are also asked not to feed bread to the birds as it can also make the swans sick. In fact, feeding swans too much “human food” can contribute to a condition called “angel wing.” This is a deformity which permanently prevents swans from flying. 
  • As mentioned above, the viewing sites are on private property so please be respectful of the birds and the land.
  • It is best not to bring your pet dog no matter how well behaved they are. Swans view canines as predators and tend to become anxious in the presence of dogs.
Swan tipping upside down to get food. swans in Arkansas. Swans over-winter on Magness Lake near the town of Heber Springs.Pin

Things to Know About Trumpeter Swans

  • They are named for their loud honking calls. When you go to visit them you will discover that trumpeter swans can be LOUD.
  • Trumpeter swans are largest member of the waterfowl family that are native to North America. They males average about 28 pounds with an 8 feet wide wingspan, but can be even bigger.
  • These swans were hunted almost to extinction by the 1930’s.
  • A male swan is called a Cob. The female is called a Pen and the young of the year are called cygnets.
  • The cygnets are a grayish color until their second summer when they turn white.
  • The cygnets learn to fly when they are 3-4 months old.
  • Trumpeter Swans form very strong pair bonds with their mate and are very loyal to one another. They almost always stay together until one dies.
  • Trumpeter Swans are mainly vegetarians, although they occasionally eat small fish and fish eggs. They constantly feed on aquatic plants. Grain crops, including corn and barley also make up part of the wintertime diet.
Adult and cygnet. swans in Arkansas. Swans over-winter on Magness Lake near the town of Heber Springs.Pin

Bundle up, grab a thermos of hot chocolate and come out in the winter to see the swans in Arkansas! It is a wonderful and unique experience!

Don’t forget your camera! You will definitely want to take photographs!

If you are looking for some other winter activities while in the Heber Springs area consider walking the lovely Collins Creek Trail. This is a short and easy, but beautiful hike.

Here is a list of more magical winter activites in Arkansas.

Other Animals in Arkansas

If you want to read about some of the other animals that we have living here in Arkansas you might want to check out the following posts:

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