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As winter hits, swans hold out till the last minute

Birds’ autumn migration is in its final phase. Yet while winter is finally striking with full force, swans and gulls still stubbornly remain in southern Finland.

Trumpeter swans in Muonio
Whooper swans don't mind the cold in Muonio. Image: Orvo Öhman

Swans are remaining in Finland later year by year, leaving only when forced to by weather conditions.

In the Uusimaa region, swans now usually remain into December, with some hanging around until New Year’s, notes Jan Södersved, communications director at Birdlife Finland. Canada geese and goldeneye ducks, too, remain on lakes such as Lohilampi in Lohja until it freezes over.

“Swans tend to move slightly southward and then perhaps back up again if the weather allows,” he explains. “I’d say that their average departure has been pushed back by about a month within the past few years. It may be quite sensible not to go anywhere else if there’s still plenty to eat here.”

The blizzard predicted for the end of this week could bring tough times for both migratory and year-round garden birds. Södersved recommends beginning bird feeding before the severe weather hits.

“Backyard feeding should begin before the snow and severe cold. And what’s even more important is to continue it throughout the winter once it’s been started,” says Södersved.

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