Unusual avian visitor lures birders to Brandon

BRANDON — Brandon is home to a lot of unique individuals, but a truly rare bird paid a visit last week.
A beautiful white trumpeter swan attracted the interest and excitement of the birding community when a fine specimen was seen off Route 73 in the Otter Creek floodwaters hanging out with a flock of Canada geese.
Carl Phelps owner of Miller Hill Farm, Nursery and Gardens in Sudbury spotted the swan on Wednesday, March 8, south of the railroad overpass.
Renee and Russ Traverse of Sudbury photographed the swan and posted it on Vermont Birding, and several other area birding enthusiasts have taken photos as well. Nan Jenks-Jay of Miller Hill Farm said that since then, carloads of people equipped with binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras have come to view and photograph the magnificent bird.
The reason for all the excitement is that the swan was far out of its normal range. Trumpeter swans are usually found in the upper Michigan and Minnesota, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario.
“The swan has generated a firestorm of excitement in Western Vermont,” said Chris Rimmer, director of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. “The trumpeter swan, far out of range here, this being only the second accepted state record.”
The trumpeter swan is the largest species of waterfowl in North America with a wingspan of up to 10 feet and an average body weight of 22-28 pounds. It is one of the heaviest living birds capable of flight.
These swans like clean wide ponds and lakes that are relatively undisturbed, slow-moving rivers and marshes.
The swans have a lifespan of 24-33 years and mate for life.
On the website ebird.org, a total of 48 people lodged sightings of the swan between March 9 and March 13.

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