Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Trumpeter Swan

I drove over to Wells Lake last Wednesday, 26 March 2014, and found five Trumpeter Swans. A number of field marks cinched my Identification. The first was the long, straight, sloping bill. A Tundra Swan’s bill has a slight angle. In the second photo, you can see that the forehead, at the top of the bill, is pointed. The Tundra has a rounded border. Finally the gray, first-winter bird in the upper photo gives a clue. Young Tundra Swans begin to molt to white in December and all are white by April. YoungTrumpeter Swans often remain gray-brown through the spring and even into the summer (Sibley 2014). The rusty color on these swans’ heads and necks are stains from iron-rich waters and muds where the birds often forage (Mitchell and Eichholz 2010). Not all swans sport this color.
As I was leaving Wells Lake, three Common Mergansers shot by me and I was lucky to get the more or less focused photo you see below.

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