Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome and Tundra Swan Project

Warmest welcome to all!

We're so happy to present to you the official blog of Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park. Located in Scotland Neck, NC, Sylvan Heights is the world’s largest waterfowl park and continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Our main focus is providing our visitors a first-class experience in education, conservation and fun.

We plan to use this blog as a way to keep everyone informed about the spectacular birds at the park, like the Tundra swans we're blogging about today. We'll also let you know about any changes and additions to the park, including up-coming events, our education programs, and new exhibit openings.

Many of the visitors to the park really enjoy getting to see our Tundra swans up close. These beautiful birds are a true native of North America and breed on Alaska's North Slope. They then migrate east through Canada and the Carolinas. This unusual migration consists of traveling up to 8,000 miles round trip, and has been passed down from parent to offspring for countless generations. Tundra swans rely on tundra wetland habitat for breeding, wetland staging areas throughout their migration, and wintering grounds where parents and young can rest and feed.

The education department at Sylvan Heights is fortunate to be able to participate in the Tundra Swan Migration Research Program. It was developed by the Environmental Studies at Airlie, but Sylvan Heights educators contributed to the program by developing its educational component, which introduces middle and high school students to the world of field biology and wildlife research.

The park's education staff, Dan Louk and Carla Taylor, show the students how to collect data which allows the students to follow the swans and the research being conducted, share field observations and openly communicate with other participating schools across the continent. Students learn to use scientific equipment, conduct interviews, collect and analyze data and write a final research report. Local groups such as schools, scouts, college classes may sign up for this program and Sylvan Heights educators then schedule sessions and a trip to try to locate the collared swans.

If you're in the local area, and this sounds like a project you’d like your child or student to participate in, send an e-mail message to, and we’ll forward your e-mail to our education department for more details. To learn more about this fantastic research program, click here to visit the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education's project description page, or visit to see the map displaying each collared swan’s current location!

If you'd like to see the Tundra swans here at the park, you can find them in the North American Aviary. If you’ve never been to the park, here’s what you can expect: the park is home to over 1,000 birds, including many rare and endangered species. You can enjoy close-up encounters with many of these birds in our large walk-through aviaries, each of which represents species from six continents. Gardens and shaded picnic areas are located throughout the park, and your children will love our playground area. Many exciting new exhibit openings are in the works for this spring and summer, so check back with this blog often for more information.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl blog! In our sidebar, you’ll find a way to subscribe to our blog, which will deliver new postings directly to your email. Or you can bookmark our page for easy retrieval. We also want to hear from you. Feel free to click the comment button to let us know what you think. We're planning to post a new blog entry about every week, so stay tuned for our next post, which will feature one of the most recognizable birds in the world--the flamingo.