Thousands of trumpeter swans are spending some of their winter at the Deer Park Wildlife Mitigation Area west of Menan Buttes before heading north to nesting grounds in Canada.

An estimated one-fourth of the Rocky Mountain trumpeter swan population is wintering at a nearby wildlife area near Menan Buttes and it’s drawing looks from local bird-watchers.

An estimated 3,000 swans as well as hundreds of ducks and geese have gathered at the Deer Park Wildlife Mitigation Unit just west of the buttes.

“It’s fantastic right now. We usually get a lot of swans out there during the winter, but this year we have a lot more,” said James Brower, Regional Communications Manager, for Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Brower said the swans and other waterfowl spend the day feeding on grain fields planted specifically for the wintering birds. They also spend time in the nearby streams, slough and Snake River.

Brower said the swans account for a large part of the Rocky Mountain population which will eventually migrate to breeding grounds in Canada.

Volunteers shot video and photos of the winter birds and counted more than 2,500 in the images. Some of that video can be seen on the Idaho Fish and Game Upper Snake Facebook page.

There is also a useful map there of Deer Park showing parking areas and walking trails. Access to the area is along the Twin Butte Road. The wildlife area is accessed via walk-in only.

“If you want to see all the birds, you better hurry,” Brower said. “They will begin migrating north in a week or so.”

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