Christmas Trumpeters at Riverlands

December 24, 2014

The trumpeter swans of winter are at their peak at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Missouri. Trumpeter swans evoke a variety of emotions. I’ve met individuals who are downright passionate about these huge birds, and others who don’t quite get it.

A few years ago I was photographing a field full of trumpeters from the road in St. Charles County when a woman came out of her house and asked me, “What is so interesting about those birds?” Perhaps she was growing weary of them squatting not only in her corn stubble, but also in her back yard. I began to explain their status in the waterfowl world and their amazing recovery in North America, but I soon realized my lesson was falling on deaf ears. I graciously departed the area as she stomped back to her house.

On the other hand, I’ve met people who keep track of trumpeter migration routes, travel long distances to view them, and support the Trumpeter Swan Society with all their hearts. In their homes, you will find trumpeter swan artwork on the walls, and if they offer you a cup of coffee, you might just find a trumpeter on the side of the mug!

So, where do I stand on Trumpeter Swans? I think most of you know; I love them! As a matter of fact, if you visit the Audubon Center at Riverlands, one of the first things you’ll see when you walk in the door is an oversized print of one of my trumpeter images over the main desk.

I can watch trumpeter swans all day long, in rain or snow. I’ve photographed them from a kayak for eight hours straight with nary a pee break. I find them not only stunning, with their eight foot wing spans and 30 pound bodies, but also fascinating as they vocalize and interact at their favorite loafing spots. Trumpeter swans are simply one of Nature’s masterpieces and I can’t believe how fortunate we are to have a huge winter population right here in eastern Missouri.

I visited Riverlands several times this week and in spite of the raw, overcast conditions, I managed to get some nice images. I typically walk along the trails and riverbanks, just waiting for a group to fly over as shown in the featured image. On one of my visits, I found myself facing the impressive Clark Bridge over the Mississippi, so I waited for a group to pass between me and the suspension cables. As you can see from the image below, the compression effect of my 500mm lens brought the bridge right up to the string of trumpeters.


Later in the week, I made my stand at a popular resting area and tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible so I could capture some of the big birds in “relaxation mode.” One of my favorite images from that series is shown below.


The final image is a nice example of a trumpeter keeping an eye on its resting mate. Beautiful!


If you are reading this on Christmas Eve morning, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m back at Riverlands trying to get an image of the trumpeters in a predicted snow shower. If my plan comes together, I’ll share a few of those images in the next edition. If not, you’ll still have these trumpeters to look at in the cyber snow shower that WordPress provides every winter. 🙂

Merry Christmas


Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

6 comments on “Christmas Trumpeters at Riverlands”

  1. Wonderful images. Wish you luck with your effort today…and here’s wishing you and Joyce a very happy Christmas!

  2. Trumpeters or such a magnificent bird to watch. I too, love to watch them intermingle with other. I watched them for hours last year, on a very cold day in Jan/14, up at Lock n Dam–24, in Clarksville, MO. I hope that you get your wish this morning, and capture them in the snow, however, I don’t think that we are going to get any. I am sure that any shots that you get, will be spectacular. Thanks for sharing Danny, and again Merry Christmas to you, and Joyce.


    • Thanks Art. Always glad to hear you get out for some wildlife viewing. I know you love Nature. Take care, and Merry Christmas!

  3. Thanks Danny. I always enjoy your outstanding photos.

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