Members of Juneau Raptor Center and residents captured a trumpeter swan on Wednesday that had evaded apprehension since November.
“This was like our sixth attempt,” said raptor center manager Kathy Benner in a phone interview. “I would say we go out after ravens that are really hard to catch, but it’s getting close to record. Six times is a lot.”
The swan, which had damaged flight feathers, was first observed around Thanksgiving of 2020 in and around Auke Lake, Benner said. He relocated to Auke Bay during the new year, with many Juneau residents observing him around the area and offering the raptor center very helpful advice, Benner said.
“He moved to Auke Bay a month ago,” Benner said. “People were still feeding him, but his flight ability was becoming less and less.”
With concerns about the swan’s condition mounting, Benner concocted a plan worthy of the most dastardly of Scooby-Doo villains.
“People took some food and I stood out of a sight with a sheet,” Benner said. “The people lured him up with food, and I got him with a sheet.”
Matthew Brown and Kerry Howard, who were known to the swan, were able to get him close enough to grab, Benner said.
“The swan was used to seeing them. When I approached, he’d back away from me. Birds are like that. They’re suspicious of people they don’t know,” Benner said. “Matt was able to get his arm around him and I was able to come up with the sheeting and take him. It actually went pretty smooth.”
The damage to the bird’s left wing had progressed some, Benner said, and his condition wasn’t getting better.
“His flight feathers on the wing continued to fall out. They were kind of stripped,” Benner said. “Now that we have him in the kennel, I can see some lice on his head, the sign of a bird that’s been on the ground.”
The swan — and Benner — will be able to relax tonight, with the swan bound for the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka on the morning flight for a thorough exam and care.
“He’s chilling out in an extra large kennel with food and water. He’s happy as clam,” Benner said. “He’s going to be safe and taken care of now. We’re really happy.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.