Where to see trumpeter swans in the winter and during their migrations

Photos courtesy Creative Commons

Watching trumpeter swans gliding on the open water is an incredible, beautiful sight. They’re the world’s largest waterfowl with a standing height of up to five feet, a wingspan from 7 to 8 feet, and weight ranging from 21 to 30 pounds. Despite their size, their gracefulness on the water is flawless.

And their calls are unmistakable. They sound like a trumpet.

In November, the trumpeter swans fly from Alaska to their wintering grounds in southern British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, the Plains, and parts of the Upper Midwest and southern Ontario. In February and March, they start their long flight back to Alaska.

Here are some places you can see the trumpeter swans during the winter and their migrations. Look for them swimming in open water and foraging in open fields.


British Columbia

Comox Valley on the eastern side of Vancouver Island


Lake Ontario and the Trent and Crowe Rivers

Wye Marsh National Wildlife Area—For more information, contact the Wye Marsh Nature Centre, 16160 Highway 12 East, Midland, Ontario, (705) 526-7809.

United States


Idaho Birding Trail, multiple locations throughout the state


Swan Park, 121 Mississippi Drive, Monticello, Minnesota (Monticello swan reports and viewing updates, Swam Cam livestream)

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, 35704 County Highway 26, Rochert, Minnesota, (218) 847-2641, Tamarac@fws.gov


Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, 27650B S Valley Road, Lima, Montana, (406) 276-3536


Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, 36391 Sodhouse Lane, Princeton, Oregon, (541) 589-0819 (message only), malheur@fws.gov. The trumpeter swans at the Malheur refuge do not migrate.

South Dakota

Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, 29746 Bird Road, Martin, South Dakota, (605) 685-6508, lacreek@fws.gov


Johnson-Debay Swan Reserve, 22500 Debays Island Road, Mount Vernon, Washington

Ledbetter Point State Park, Hines Marsh, north of Oysterville, Washington (map and birding trail details)

Northern Olympic Peninsula, in and around Sequim (pronounced SQUIM)

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, 26010 S. Smith Road, Cheney, Washington, (509) 235-4723, Turnbull@fws.gov

Trumpeter Swan festivals

A Celebration of Swans in the Yukon Territory welcomes spring and the return of the trumpeter swans to northern Canada. The event starts April 1 and ends in early May at Swan Haven on Marsh Lake, a half-hour drive southeast of Whitehorse on Highway 1.

Harriman State Park hosts a Trumpeter Swan Day on a Sunday in either January or February from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Activities include a guided nature walk at noon, kids’ activities, and swan origami.

The park is located at 3489 Green Canyon Road, Island Park, Idaho. Call (208) 558-7368 or email har@idpr.idaho.gov for more information.

Harriman State Park is 72 miles north of Idaho Falls and 357 miles northeast of Boise.

Learn more about trumpeter swans at these websites:


2 thoughts on “Where to see trumpeter swans in the winter and during their migrations

  1. Just wanted you to know–we also have these swans at LaCenter…at the bird refuge….Been doing this for years. Thought it was interesting that you sent this


    1. We checked it out this morning. Ten trumpeter swans were still there, swimming in the water and standing along the shoreline. We also stopped at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and saw four trumpeter swans there.

      Thanks for the tip!


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