2018 Swan Days Festival

Thousands of Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and twenty-two species of ducks migrate to Lake Mattamuskeet each year between November and February to spend the winter on North Carolina's largest natural lake. The Swan Days Festival, held on the second Saturday in December, celebrates the winter migration, and especially the return of the majestic Tundra Swans. This year, the festival is on December 8, 2018, from 10:00AM to 4:00PM and will take place at Mattamuskeet School and on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge.

Birding Tram Tours

The guided tram tours for viewing the migratory birds on Lake Mattamuskeet are by reservation only. Reservations will not be available until sometime in November of 2018. The exact date will be announced later. No early reservations are allowed. Watch this website and our Swan Days facebook page for the reservations date, when we announce it. We will also place press releases in North Carolina and Virginia newspapers announcing the reservation date a few weeks in advance.

Decoy Carving Workshop

Chase Luker carves North Carolina style decoys the old fashioned way––with a sharp hatchet. Come to the 2018 Swan Days Festival and Chase will teach you how to carve your favorite decoy. The workshop will take place on December 8 at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. The workshop is limited to twelve people. Chase will provide all supplies. For more information or to register for the workshop, email Chase at <chase.luker@ncwildlife.org>.

 

Kids' Programs

Consider taking your kids to the 2018 Swan Days Festival at Mattamuskeet School and Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge on December 8. Mattamuskeet is North Carolina’s largest natural lake and thousands of Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and ducks spend the winter at the lake each year. There will be bird tours, educational programs, and a variety of vendors. For more information, follow our Swan Days facebook page, or call the 2018 festival headquarters at (252) 926-1639.

Hunting Guides

In the 1950s and 1960s, sportswriters described Lake Mattamuskeet as the “Canada Goose Hunting Capital of the World.” At noon on December 8, as part of the 2018 Swan Days Festival, a group of men who guided hunters on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in the old days will share their stories. The program is free and the public is invited. For more information, call the 2018 festival headquarters at (252) 926-1639.

Know the Guides

Bunk Carawan of Hyde County, NC, is the oldest surviving man who guided hunters on Lake Mattamuskeet before the US Fish and Wildlife Services outlawed shooting Canada Geese on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in 1972. If his health permits, Bunk will be back at Mattamuskeet School on December 8, 2018, as part of the annual Swan Days Festival. Several of the former guides will return for a panel discussion during the noon hour. For more information, call the refuge office at 252-926-4021.

For more information, follow our Swan Days facebook page, or call the 2018 festival headquarters at (252) 926-1639.

Nature Photography

You are invited to participate in a free wildlife and nature photography workshop as part of the 2018 Swan Days Festival at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, December 8. Matthew Molt will conduct the workshop. Participants should arrive with their camera at the Charles Kuralt Trail observation platform on Hwy 94 at Lake Mattamuskeet at 6:30 AM.. Bring your camera. For more information, call Matthew at (252) 402-1778, or visit his facebook page @Matthew Molt Photography.

North Carolina Estuarium

The 2018 Swan Days Festival will take place at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge and Mattamuskeet School on December 8. The North Carolina Estuarium will have an exhibit of flora and fauna from their estuarine museum collection. Russ Chesson of the Estuarium staff stated, “Our station will feature hands-on educational activities designed to teach, entertain, and challenge the expert in every crowd.” For more information, call the 2018 festival headquarters at 252-926-1639.

Tram Tours

The date for reserving your seat on the December 8, 2018 guided migratory bird trams at Lake Mattamuskeet has not yet been set. Please do not call early hoping to reserve a seat. There are no early reservations! We will announce the reservation date later in the year. Reservations will be handled differently this year. Mattamuskeet Refuge will not be reserving seats on the trams. The details will be made clear when we announce the date for accepting reservations. PLEASE BE PATIENT AND CONTINUE TO WATCH HIS WEBSITE AND OUR SWAN DAYS FACEBOOK PAGE.

Meet the Hunting Guides

On December 8, 2018, as part of the annual Swan Days Festival at Lake Mattamuskeet, a panel of former hunting guides from days gone by on Lake Mattamuskeet will share their experiences from the years when Mattamuskeet was the "Canada Goose Hunting Capitol of the World." Among the guides will be A.B. Swindell, a native of Hyde County and former guide who later served five terms in the North Carolina State Senate. For more information about the festival and guide’s program, call the 2018 festival headquarters at (252) 926-1639.

Bird Viewing Tours

For the 2018 Swan Days Festival on December 8, all tram tour participants must park at Mattamuskeet School and take a Hyde Transit bus to Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. Please do not drive your vehicle to the refuge, as there will be no designated parking area at the refuge for tram tour participants. When you reach the refuge, you will be transferred to another Hyde Transit bus that will shuttle you to the trams, a distance of about seven miles. Tour guides will be on the trams to assist you in viewing large numbers of migratory birds. It is important that everyone with a confirmed reservation for a tram tour report to the buses at Mattamuskeet School at the time provided when you made your reservation. We will announce the date that reservations will open. No early reservations will be accepted so please do not call until the designated date.

Sylvan Heights

Sylvan Heights Bird Park, in a joint venture with the 2018 Swan Days Festival at Lake Mattamuskeet, will provide a hands-on, engaging opportunity to better understand waterfowl conservation on December 8. Join them for educational activities, digging deeper into the world of waterfowl, with a focus on the importance of these species in the wetland ecosystem. A wood duck, bar-headed goose, and the black swan are some of the waterfowl included in the day’s activities. These Sylvan Heights waterfowl, along with Eastern North Carolina’s large flocks of wintering waterfowl, provide a perfect backdrop to the return of Mattamuskeet’s tundra swan.  For more information, call the 2018 festival headquarters at 252-926-1639.

Pumping Plant, ca. 1920

Dr. Lewis Forrest, executive director of the nonprofit Mattamuskeet Foundation, will given a presentation at the Swan Days Festival on December 8, 2018 on the history of Lake Mattamuskeet. The program with slides will begins with the earliest recorded history of the lake and continues to the present. Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in North Carolina. The bulk of the presentation concerns the period from 1909 to 1932, when the Mattamuskeet Drainage District built the world's largest capacity pumping plant and removed the water from the lake three times. During those years, the Mattamuskeet Drainage District was describe as America's most famous pump-supported land reclamation project. For more information, call Dr. Forrest at (252) 341-7882.