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Lowber (Marchand Mine) Site


The Swans of Lowber

In the fall of last year SCWA transplanted a female swan from Ethel Springs Lake in Derry (thank you Municipal Authority of Derry) to be a companion for Cygnus. We were concerned that only a single swan would not stay all alone.

Cygnus the Swan Cygnus the Swan

We needn't have worried, soon he was joined by friends.

A local resident writes:

At one time there were 8 new Swans (4 pair); that means that at one time this year there were 10 Mute Swans on the Lowber Wetland.

Migrating Native swans fly over this area. It is part of their migratory flyway. They are more often heard than seen. They sound like a more mellow sounding flock of Canada Geese, somewhat like the mournful cooing of our Mourning Doves. During migration Tundra Swans have actually tarried at more remote wetlands located about a mile upstream for the Lowber Wetland. During the day they would feed in neighboring cornfields and return to the wetlands for over night.

Keep in mind that for two years now a Bald Eagle has been seen perched in or flying over the Lowber Wetland. This adds meaning to the phrase, "If you build it they will come." These big birds stop traffic on the road that parallels the Treatment Center and lends integrity to our mission statement, "To protect and restore the quality of natural resources in the Sewickley Creek watershed."

The Lowber Wetland also attract flocks of Canada Geese and various ducks and other waterfowl. A Snow Goose has also been observed bivouacking at Lowber. Tree Swallows nest in bluebird boxes built an installed by SCWA member John Hilewick. You can see one of John's bluebird boxes in this picture back on the dike between the lead Swan and the second Swan. Purple Martins occasionally dine over the waters of the Treatment Center and Wetland. Kingfishers, Wood Cocks and other birds inhabit and/or frequent these ponds, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Cardinals, Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warblers, Yellow Throats, Chickadees, Titmice and Flycatchers; Woodpeckers also nest in the dead trees in the Wetland; a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks nest on the ridge overlooking the site.

Tracks of Racoon and Deer are prevalent around the ponds. Wild Turkey fly from the ridge above and cross our ponds and Sewickley Creek that parallels the road past the Lowber site. Snakes, Turtles, muskrats and various fish inhabit the Wetland.

Cygnus the Swan Cygnus the Swan

Photos courtesy of Philip Rooke

Tundra Swans

Our resident observer writes:

Here are pictures of Tundra Swans (they used to be called "Whistling" Swans) on a wetland just up the road from the Lowber facility. The Tundras are gone now. But they occasionally bivouac here on their way too and from the Tundra where they breed and raise their young. They are more timid than Mute Swans and so prefer this more remote site or we would see them all over the Lowber site. If you are at Lowber when they fly over you can hear their distinct call. Many people don't even look up. They think they are just another flock of Canada Geese; but they aren't; they are bigger and all white except for black bills, legs and feet. Their necks are also noticeably longer and their wing beat more ponderous and, if you are up close, noisier.

Tundra Swans Tundra Swans

Photos courtesy of Alison Taylor

Sewickley Creek Watershed Association P.O. Box 323 Youngwood,Pa 15697-0323
Phone: 724-610-0829
Meeting Location: J. Roy Houston Conservation Center (WCD Barn), 218 Donohoe Rd, Greensburg, PA 15601
Scheduled Meeting: Third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m.