Wild Utah swans, where are they?


July 19 is the last day to apply for a permit to hunt tundra swans in Utah this fall. | Photo courtesy Utah DWR

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) Wild swans are currently winging their way through Utah, making March one of the best times of the year to see them.

“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.”

Both tundra swans and trumpeter swans stop in Utah’s wetlands for some 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 you can see the swans and learn more about them. However, to try to lessen the spread of COVID-19, the DWR isn’t holding a swan viewing event this year.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get out and see swans on your own, though. Two places in Box Elder County — the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area and the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge — are typically great places to see swans. Make sure to bring binoculars or a spotting scope so you can get a good view of the birds.

Also, while it might be difficult to see migrating swans from this location, the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Wildlife Education Center in Davis County offers two taxidermied tundra swans you can see up close.

A word of caution: if you’re driving and looking for swans, please do so safely. Don’t stop in the middle of the road if you see a swan. Instead, pull completely off the road before viewing. Your safety, and the safety of other motorists, comes first.

Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area

The Salt Creek WMA is about 12 miles northwest of Corinne. The Compton’s Knoll viewing area — a small hill on the southeast side of the WMA — is an excellent place to view swans and other wildlife. The rest of the WMA is closed until September, so please stay behind closed gates and view swans only from Compton’s Knoll.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Auto Tour Route is about 12 miles west of Brigham City’s I-15 exit 363 on West Forest Street. Travel West Forest Street until you come to a large parking area with a viewing tower, then follow the signs. The 12-mile auto tour route will take you through the heart of the refuge. You should see plenty of swans in the wetlands along the route.

Eccles Wildlife Education Center

The Eccles Wildlife Education Center is part of the Farmington Bay WMA. The center features two tundra swan mounts and displays about wetlands and uplands in the area.

The WMA is closed to vehicle traffic until September, but the center — at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way in Farmington — is open from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Tuesdays-Fridays, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays.

To keep everyone safe, you must wear a mask while you’re in the center. Also, the number of people allowed in the center at any one time is limited.

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