Cover image for Project UltraSwan
Project UltraSwan
Osborn, Elinor.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002.
Physical Description:
64 pages : color illustrations, color map ; 24 x 29 cm.
Describes the life of large trumpeter swans, how they nearly became extinct, and efforts to reintroduce them to the Northeastern United States and to help them relearn migration routes.
Reading Level:
970 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.2 1.0 63023.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 6.3 4 Quiz: 31873 Guided reading level: U.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL696.A52 O82 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



It has been nearly 200 years since hunters killed the last of the trumpeter swans living in the eastern part of North America. Now that the birds are protected by law, scientists hope to restore them to their former range. But unlike birds who have their migration maps built in, trumpeters must learn the routes from their parents. So scientists in the Trumpeter Swan Migration Project are taking on the role of parent swans, teaching cygnets to follow ultralight aircraft in an effort to reintroduce a migrating population to the Atlantic coast.
This fascinating fieldwork includes transportation of ten-day-old cygnets from Alaska to the training site in New York State, the design of a special uniform to prevent the baby swans from recognizing their caretakers as human, and the process of training the birds to follow the ultralight--including the heartbreak of setbacks and the exhilaration of successes.

Author Notes

Elinor Osborn learned of the Trumpeter Swan Migration Project when the biologist/pilot for the project presented a slide show at a local bird club meeting. The work sounded so exciting, she rolled out of bed at 4:30 a.m. a few days later to see the swans-in-training for herself. A professional photographer and writer, Elinor Osborn lives in Penfield, New York.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Almost 200 years ago, hunters killed the last of the trumpeter swans living in the eastern part of North America. The majestic birds are now protected by law, and scientists hope to restore them to their former habitat. But trumpeters have lost the knowledge of their migration routes, so scientists are training the swans to follow ultralight aircraft and relearn their migratory patterns. Beautifully illustrated with crisp, colorful photographs and maps, Project UltraSwan describes in clear, succinct language all that the scientists must take into account in their work, as well as what they have learned about their subject so far. A chart comparing the three kinds of North American swans is included, as are recommended titles for additional information and a list of the nations' top sites to spot trumpeter swans. Another fine addition to the exceptional Scientists in the Field series. --Karen Hutt

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-9-The magnificent trumpeter swan, with its eight-foot wingspan, once covered most of the United States and Canada. By 1900, the species was killed off for food or feathers east of the Mississippi River and threatened with extinction. Unlike other migrating birds, swans and geese must learn their migration routes; it is not instinctive. When biologist Gavin Shire came in contact with Bill Lishman, the pilot of "Father Goose" fame, whose work with migrating geese was brought to the big screen in Fly Away Home, he decided to try something similar with the heavier birds. The Trumpeter Swan Migration Project was hatched, with the scientists setting out to teach cygnets to follow ultralight aircraft and reestablish their traditional routes. Osborn has documented the first three years of this project with vibrant writing and crisp, informative, and occasionally dramatic photographs. Maps are used throughout to explain routes and to depict both the historical and current range of the swan. A chart and photographs compare the three types of swans found in North America, and another page includes some sites where trumpeter swans can be seen in the wild. This excellent title builds from year to year as scientists learn from their experiences and start again with new cygnets. An exciting and accessible story, with important insights into our environment and the scientific process.-Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.