There are so many ecological disasters these days that it’s nice to hear about an improvement, like the resurrection of the Trumpeter Swan, one of which returned to New Hampshire during migration this year for the first time in perhaps 200 years.
By 1900, the Trumpeters had been hunted almost to extinction on the continent and had been extirpated entirely from New England. Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, Trumpeters were killed for their meat, skins and feathers. Trumpeter skins were, in particular, found to be extremely soft to the touch and were consequently turned into powder puffs. Their long, white feathers adorned a countless number of ladies’ hats. It was the fashion of the times. The quills were highly prized for writing and drawing.
Even John James Audubon, America’s celebrated ornithologist and illustrator, preferred Trumpeter quills for drawing fine detail, such as the feet and claws of small birds. These products were in great demand throughout Europe and North America.
By 1933, fewer than 70 Trumpeter Swans were known to exist in the wild in the lower 48 states. According to the 2015 North American Trumpeter Swan Survey, the number of Trumpeter Swans today has rebounded to approximately 63,000 – far from their original numbers – but still a huge accomplishment.
You can read the whole piece here.