JANUARY 8, 2007 - Posted at 7:46 a.m. CST
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - Big birds from up north are getting a taste of the South when they spend the winter on Magness Lake near Heber Springs. Trumpeter swans have returned once again to the lake this year. They gather late in the day and enjoy handouts of corn -- and graze on that Southern staple, turnip greens.
The big, beautiful birds are found no where else in significant numbers in this part of the country. The current count at Magness Lake is 108. Dick Herget serves as caretaker and overseer of the private refuge that includes the lake. He says five acres of turnip greens was planted this year, just for the swans.
The swans discovered Magness Lake in 1990 when three of them showed up and spent much of the winter. Perry Linder of Heber Springs owned the property that included the lake and was largely responsible for the swans returning year after year. Linder fed them and protected them as much as possible.
Trumpeter swans are the largest member of the swan family and the largest of North America's waterfowl.