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Trumpeter swan soiree returns to central Iowa

  • 1/10/2019 3:07:00 PM
  • View Count 2478
  • Return

The public is invited to a Trumpeter Swan Soiree, celebrating North America’s largest waterfowl species, at Walnut Woods State Park from 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., on Jan. 26.

Programs will be given indoors and outdoors at the Walnut Woods State Park Lodge with concurrent outdoor viewing and interpretive presentations of trumpeter swans and wildlife given by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Des Moines Parks and Rec, and Polk and Dallas County Conservation naturalist. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be provided.

An estimated 160 trumpeter swans are wintering at the Dale Maffitt Reservoir and surrounding area southwest of Des Moines, providing a rare opportunity to view good numbers of free flying trumpeter swans. 

Hot chocolate, hot cider, cookies, hotdogs and other snacks will be provided free of charge. Donations will be accepted with proceeds going towards Iowa trumpeter swan restoration.


Jan. 26

Walnut Woods State Park Lodge, 3155 Walnut Woods Dr., West Des Moines


10:30-10:55 a.m.     Trumpeter Swans- Bringing Back a North American Treasure

                                 Margaret Smith, Director, Trumpeter Swan Society

11-11:25 a.m.          Conservation funding for wetlands and water quality

                                 Mike Shannon, Ducks Unlimited

11:30-12 p.m.          Live Trumpeter Swan Presentation- See, touch and learn about swans

                                 Dave Hoffman, Iowa DNR

12:20-12:50 p.m.     Trumpeter Swan Restoration in Iowa

                                 Dave Hoffman, Iowa DNR, and Ron Andrews

12:55-1:25 p.m.       “Return of the Trumpeter Swans” North American film documentary                        preview

                                 Steve Harryman, Filmmaker

1:30-2 p.m.              SOS: Saving Our Swans: Stories from the Willows Waterfowl Sanctuary

                                 Holly Welch and Mary Nelson

2 p.m.                      Guided field trip and Nature Photography 101, Swan and wildlife viewing

                                 with hands-on photo tips

                                 Eric Williamson and Holly Welch, Wildlife Photographers at

                                 Dale Maffitt Reservoir and southwest Des Moines

10:30-2 p.m.            Youth activities- Bills & Beaks- How birds eat, a swan touch kit, swan

                                 pine cone crafting, bird wings and trumpeter runway 

                                 Anne Riordan, Iowa DNR

More information on Walnut Woods State Park can be found at: https://www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks-Rec-Areas/Iowas-State-Parks/ParkDetails/ParkID/610133

Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s.  By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the Lower 48 states.  As the largest North American waterfowl, these magnificent all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds with an 8-foot wingspan. Public support is vital in restoring trumpeter swans to Iowa. 

Walnut Woods State Park is on the southwest edge of Des Moines.  From the intersection of I-35 and Hwy. 5; travel 1.5 miles east to SE 35thStreet (exit 102), travel 1/4th mile north to Army Post road, ½ mile west to SW 105th Street, then 1.5 miles north and east on Walnut Woods Drive to Walnut Woods State Park.

This event is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Polk and Dallas County Conservation Boards, Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines Parks and Recreation, Walnut Woods State Park, and the Trumpeter Swan Society.