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Final 2005 Mid-Summer Mute Swan Survey Results

Atlantic Flyway Council Snow Goose, Brant and Swan Committee

July 20, 2007, Portsmouth, NH

 

The 2005 Atlantic Flyway Mid-Summer Mute Swan Survey (AFMSMSS) was conducted during August and September 2005. All 17 AF states and the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia participated.  Methods include a mix of aerial and ground surveys.  Mute swans are counted by age class and the number of broods are noted.  During the 2005 AFMSMSS several states combined field operations to count mute swans with mute swan control work. 

 

Results:

A total of 13,649 mute swans were counted during the survey (Table 1).   The survey originated in 1986 and has been run 7 times at 3-year intervals during the last 20 years (Table 2).  This years count decreased slightly from the 2002 count, but was still the second highest on record.  Mute swan counts increased in each year of the survey except 2005 and the population shows a significant increasing trend (Figures 1 & 2).  Major factors that may cause decreasing numbers include, density dependent population growth, change in survey effort, or control programs.

 

Between 1986 and 2002 the survey counted between 9.8% and 12% young of the year.  Average brood size ranged from 2.8 to 3.8, averaging 3.3.  During the 2005 survey we counted 13.8% young and the average brood size was 3.5.  Percent young and brood sizes may be biased low as aerial surveys are not always able to distinguish adults and young.

 

Continuing Analyses:

The AFMSMSS data are being compared to trend data from the AF Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey (MWS), The AF Northeast plot survey, The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Breeding Bird Survey, and the Christmas Bird Count in collaboration with Dr John Sauer, USGS.  The utility and efficacy of each survey will be assessed.

Spatial analyses by county, state, and MWS flight segments will be explored, however, latitude-longitude coordinates for every observation will result in the finest scale density maps (Figure 3.)  Currently only NJ, MD, and VA collect lat-long for every observation.

 

Recommendations:

1)     Future surveys should include information on coverage and survey effort in each state to aid in interpreting results.  Simply standardizing the survey area is not sufficient if mute swans continue range expansion.

2)     Future surveys should also include information on control activities in order to evaluate the efficacy of those efforts.

3)     Comparisons with other mute swan surveys should be completed.

4)      Future surveys should include lat-log coordinates to allow production of an Atlantic Flyway mute swan density map.

 


 


Table 1. 2005 Atlantic Flyway Mid-Summer Mute Swan Survey Results

State/Prov.

 Adults

Sub-Adults

Broods

Cygnets

Total

NS

0

0

0

0

0

ONT

2477

0

85

417

2894

ME

0

0

0

0

0

NH

17

0

1

6

23

VT

1

0

0

0

1

MA

787

 

100

259

1046

RI

1154

6

22

86

1246

CT

865

0

58

178

1043

NY

1860

19

97

267

2146

NJ

1674

20

81

196

1890

PA

272

1

19

34

307

DE

13

0

1

4

17

WV

15

1

2

4

20

MD

1875

0

76

323

2198

VA

612

0

0

113

725

NC

59

0

0

0

59

SC

30

0

0

0

30

GA

0

0

0

0

0

FL

4

0

0

0

4

Total

11690

47

540

1883

13649

 


 

 

Table 2.  Mute Swan Mid-Summer Survey results by region in the Atlantic Flyway,

 

from 1986 to 2005, by 3-year periods. 

Region

1986

1989

1993

1996

1999

2002

2005

Ontario:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Great Lakes

615

811

1100

1200

NS

1373

2894

New England:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maine

3

12

6

8

7

0

0

New Hampshire

19

0

49

30

31

42

23

Vermont

0

0

4

11

0

0

1

Massachusetts

585

565

660

917

986

947

1046

Rhode Island

880

1044

1333

1206

1577

1367

1246

Connecticut

1452

1948

1707

1589

1609

1338

1043

Subtotal:

2939

3569

3759

3761

4210

3694

3359

Upper Mid-Atlantic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delaware

21

1

21

9

27

18

17

New York

1815

1966

2069

1644

2429

2848

2146

New Jersey

529

717

893

1019

1364

1602

1890

Pennsylvania

63

122

139

253

242

348

307

Subtotal:

2428

2806

3122

2925

4062

4816

4360

Chesapeake Bay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryland

264

611

2245

2717

3955

3624

2198

Virginia

60

145

231

419

488

563

725

Subtotal:

324

756

2476

3136

4443

4187

2923

Southeastern:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

0

0

2

6

9

17

20

North Carolina

0

6

29

5

18

14

59

South Carolina

3

0

3

0

0

27

30

Georgia

0

26

NS

NS

0

1

0

Florida

NS

46

NS

NS

NS

215

4

Subtotal:

3

78

34

11

27

274

113

Total:

6309

8020

10491

11033

12742

14344

13649

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. Mute Swan densities in New Jersey during August-September 2005.