Hundreds of Trumpeter Swans Spotted Along Mo. River
WEST ALTON (AP) - Winter has long been known as an excellent time to see bald eagles nesting along the Mississippi River. But officials at the Audubon Center at Riverlands in West Alton, Mo., say this year is also offering a rare opportunity to see large numbers of trumpeter swans.
With 7-foot wingspans, trumpeter swans are North America's largest waterfowl. The birds were hunted throughout the 1800s for meat and feathers, and by the early 20th century few remained in the continental U.S.
Even today, the birds are still rarely seen outside of Canada and Alaska except when they migrate south in the winter.
The swans feed while swimming on open waters near Mississippi River dams. In West Alton, more than 800 were counted during a one-hour period on Tuesday.
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