Magness Lake, a 30-acre oxbow lake off the Little Red River east of Heber Springs, has become famous as being the wintering home for Trumpeter swans. The waterfowl usually don't come to this region of the country. They are found in large numbers in Alaska with smaller amounts in Wyoming and other western states. It is speculated that the first swans showed up in Arkansas after a severe storm forced them southward. The numbers have increased steadily during the past 15 years and are now over 100.
In addition to the Trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, mallards, and domestic geese have all adopted this small lake.
Many of the swans at Heber Springs are white, the sign of adult swans. Some are a dusky gray-brown, sometimes mottled with white; these are the youngsters. They become pure white when they are fully grown, although the young swans are nearly as big in body size.
Hunting of swans isn't allowed in Arkansas.
To view the swans, drive east on Arkansas 110 from its intersection with Arkansas 5 and 25 just east of Heber Springs. Go 3.9 miles from the intersection to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, marked with a white sign. Turn left on paved Hays Road; the road sign is very small. Magness Lake is about a half-mile down Hays Road.
Visitors can view the swans from a public road with parking space available in an S curve. Shelled corn is the only recommended feed. Chances of seeing numbers of the trumpet swans are best in late afternoons. During the day, they roam around in small groups, feeding in spots sometimes miles away. But they return to the lake before dark. A few of the swans usually hang around the lake during midday, too.
The trumpeters stay around Magness Lake until early March, then head back north.
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