BRIGHAM CITY — Wild swans are currently migrating through Utah. From now through the month of March are the best times of the year to see the majestic white birds. There are two locations in Box Elder County where bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts can get a good look at both tundra and trumpeter swan.
One place to get a good glimpse of swans is at the Salt Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) located about 12 miles northwest of Corinne. The Compton’s Knoll viewing area is a small hill on the southeast side of the WMA and is an excellent place to view swans and other wildlife.
The WMA is closed until September, so they ask people to stay behind closed gates and view swans only from the knoll.
The other place to get a good look at swans is the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there is a self-guided Auto Tour Route. The tour is about 12 miles west of Brigham City’s I-15 exit 363 on West Forest Street. Travel West on Forest Street until you come to a large parking area with a viewing tower, then follow the signs.
The auto tour route will take you through the heart of the refuge. Visitors should expect to see large numbers of swans in the wetlands along the route.
“Swans are graceful, beautiful birds,” said Mark Hadley, regional outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “And you’ll have no problem spotting them: they’re huge and almost pure white in color. If you’ve never seen swans in the wild before, I encourage you to get out and see them this spring.”
Utah’s wetlands end up being a much-needed rest and refueling during their annual spring migration. The migration takes the swans from wintering grounds in California to nesting sites in Canada and Alaska.
In the past, the DWR has held a viewing event in March where visitors could get a good look at the swans and learn more about them. However, with COVID-19 precautions, the DWR isn’t going to hold a swan viewing event this year.
“Make sure to bring binoculars or a spotting scope so you can get a good view of the birds,” Hadley said. “Don’t stop in the middle of the road if you see a swan. Instead, pull completely off the road before viewing.”
The driver’s safety, and the safety of other motorists, should come before looking for a swan.
Hadley said it might be difficult to see migrating swans from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Wildlife Education Center in Davis County, but they have two taxidermied tundra swans on display that visitors can see up close.