Yukon's winter swan population growing

More than a dozen trumpeter swans are now living year-round at Johnson's Crossing, Yukon.

Group of trumpeter swans at Johnson's Crossing no longer flying south

Swans returning north on their annual migration is a traditional sign of spring in Yukon.

But there are now more than a dozen trumpeter swans living year-round at Johnson’s Crossing, Yukon, since one pair stayed the winter instead of flying south about six years ago.

A pair of trumpeter swans fly over a marsh near Anchorage, Alaska, in October 2011 during their migration south. A group of 14 trumpeter swans at Johnson's Crossing, Yukon, didn't fly south for the winter. (Dan Joling/Associated Press)

Jim Clark, who lives on Teslin Lake, said he sees the birds every other day.

"We've seen them over our place, which is at least 10 miles [16 kilometres] from open water and they fly right over the house."

Clark said the Johnson’s Crossing flock of 14 now includes eight juveniles.

"Maybe those young birds just aren't following the migration and we've got more overwintering and we're going to have more broods down the road, I don't know."

Jim Hawkings, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Whitehorse, has been monitoring the Johnson’s Crossing swans since they first overwintered.

"They're really hardy birds and they'll basically winter as far north as they can," he said.

"As long as they've got some open water and something to eat, that's the key. They need something to eat."

Hawkings said they appear to have settled in with ease.

"We certainly haven't had the cold winter this winter, and unless we do I think they'll just sail through the winter."

Residents say when it does get cold, the birds huddle in a group with their beaks tucked in their feathers.