Tundra swans can be seen in Outagamie County

Tundra swans in Outagamie County farm fields
Tundra swans in Outagamie County farm fields

SHIOCTON - It's a sure sign of spring. Hundreds of tundra swans have been spotted in the area. And they're hard to miss.

The birds are around four feet tall and have a five foot wingspan.

The swans are showing up in farm fields and wetlands across Northeast Wisconsin.

In a typically tranquil wetlands area just east of Shiocton, Lyn and Dale Biedermann checked out the tundra swans.

"They're noisy, very noisy," said Lyn Biedermann, Neenah.

"Heard about the tundra swans, and wanted to see them. Went last year, and they were awesome, and wanted to get them again this year before they leave," said Biedermann.

In recent weeks, the swans have been showing up in force along Highway 54 from Oneida to New London.

"That area there was just full of them," said Dean Van Straten.

Dean Van Straten lives west of Shiocton.

"They like the corn. Any place where you see the corn field that's got the corn cut, the corn that falls to the side, they stop and feed," said Van Straten.

Waves of swans are on the way to breeding grounds in the Arctic Circle.

"All the research points that this is a really important stop for them. They winter in the Chesapeake Bay area, so they fly pretty much non-stop from Chesapeake Bay to Wisconsin," said Mike Reed, Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary director.

Mike Reed says the fields are a perennial stopover, even more so this season.

"In some years, we see them on the west shore of Green Bay more, but that's when the ice is gone. We still have so much ice, that that pushes them inland," said Reed.

The swans will stay long enough to recover.

"By the time they hit us, they're pretty much out of fuel. So it may take two to three days before they refuel, have eaten enough, put on some fat again, that they can make the next leg of the journey," said Reed.

The Biedermanns know something will soon be missing from the pond.

"You don't get to see them that often, so it's really awesome to see them in a habitat like this," said Biedermann.

Experts say nesting conditions in the Arctic are only beginning to improve.

The swans could remain in the area as long as another month.