[Tweeters] On the Subject/Status of Mute Swans

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Thu May 28 07:17:54 PDT 2015

Dear Blair and Tweeters,
I can't enlighten anyone about Mute Swans, but I will say that for a long time, we weren't supposed to count them in WA. As far as I can recall, we are still "not supposed to" count them. I don't remember whether it was WOS or some other body, but the Mute Swan has been considered a non-countable species. Someone once told me that it had to do with WDFW's stance--that they were considered an introduced pest. However, I also understood that they breed in BC somewhere, so there is rarely any sure way to know whether a particular Mute Swan came from a feral breeding population, or simply slipped away from someone's collection.
I grew up counting them back in my native NY state, where they were and are indeed an introduced pest species, just as Starlings, Rock Pigeons, and House Sparrows are. At one time, early in the ABA's history, there was a debate as to whether "Rock Doves" should be counted, but that issue was laid to rest a long time ago.
My opinion is that a stray Mute Swan in Washington ought to be countable, unless there is evidence that it is an escapee. 
On the other hand, lots of people count Ring-necked Pheasants in places in Washington State, such as Skagit County, where they do not appear to breed, but are merely survivors of the annual release of birds for slaughter. It seems strange that a gallinaceous bird that walks a hundred yards from a pen is counted by the same birders who don't count a swan--one that has  presumably flown hundreds of kilometers from a pond where it was reared by feral parents.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

From: Blair Bernson <blair at washingtonadvisorygroup.com>
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 8:54 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] On the Subject/Status of Mute Swans

Seeing Dave Hayden's post about the Mute Swan he
and Sherry saw in Eastern WA made me wonder about
the status of Mute Swan's in Washington.  I know
that they show up singly and sometimes in
multiples (5 at Kent ponds last year) at various
places East and West periodically and I believe
have been "officially accepted" now but am not
even sure of that.  When I started birding many
years ago ALL Mute Swans were considered escapees
or releases.  What is their status now - here and
elsewhere in the ABA area?  Still think of them as
most appropriate in a pond at some European Castle...

Awaiting (and welcoming) enlightenment...

Blair Bernson

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