Near-extinct swan that thrived in Burlington is now the city’s official bird


Published December 12, 2023 at 3:41 pm

trumpeter swan official bird of burlington lasalle park

The City of Burlington has made things official with a special bird thriving in the city’s very own LaSalle Park. 

At a Dec. 12 meeting, Burlington councillors voted unanimously in favour of Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman’s motion calling for the trumpeter swan to be identified as the city’s official bird. 

The motion, seconded by Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, points out that Nature Canada certified Burlington as a bird-friendly city in 2022 and that the criteria calls on selected cities to choose an official city bird through a public engagement process. 

The motion says the trumpeter swan was chosen following a process conducted by Bird Friendly Hamilton Burlington from December 2021 to March 2022. 

“I think this is terrific,” Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told council after Sharman spoke to his motion. 

“The history of the trumpeter swan is quite spectacular…they adopted LaSalle Park as their home and their wintering grounds.” 

Meed Ward spoke about conservation efforts carried out by Beverly Kingdon, a dedicated volunteer whom the city has called the “driving force” behind the creation of the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Group.

According to a post on the mayor’s official website, Kingdon received the 2023 Key to the City on July 1 during the city’s annual Canada Day celebration at Spencer Smith Park. 

The South Peel Naturalists’ Club also lauded Kingdon and her group’s achievements earlier this year. According to a post on the club’s website, trumpeter swans–the world’s largest swan and a species found only in North America–were once close to extinction. 

The post says the beed was “hunted out of existence in Ontario,” with the last one killed by a hunter in Long Point in 1886. While it was believed that less than 70 of the birds remained in the U.S. in the 1930s, the discovery of a small flock in Alaska prompted the U.S. to ban trumpeter swan hunting and help them grow their population. 

The post says Harry Lumsden, a retired Ministry of Natural Resources biologist, decided to start a restoration program in Canada in the early 1980s. 

The South Peel Naturalists’ Club says Kingdon and her late husband, Ray Kingdon, volunteered with the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Program and were “elated” when a swan named Pig Pen migrated to Burlington, where the Chisholm Township-based couple had another home. 

Pig Pen arrived at LaSalle Park in 1993, according to the post. 

“Now, more trumpeters over-winter at LaSalle Park than in any other location in Ontario,” The South Peel Naturalists’ Club says. 

“I can’t think of a better bird to be Burlington’s bird,” Galbraith told council, adding that a ‘close second’ was a wild turkey who delighted residents during the height of the COVID crisis. 

“It draws the attention of many visitors.”

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