Wednesday, February 5, 2020


Since Janauary, Erika and I have been seeing swans under the shadow of the state capitol. Those white dots on the lake in the first photo are swans. At first we saw two birds, then 10.  All appeared to be Trumpeter Swans. I was surprised by the extensive orange on some of the swans on 24 January 2020. This mark indicates a young bird. Frustratingly, some eBirders began to report a Tundra Swan among these swans.
On 2 February 2020, more or less on a whim, Erika and I set out to try to find the Capitol Lake Tundra Swan. I vowed to take a photograph of all 11 swans on the lake. The second bird I photographed was clearly a Tundra Swan. The two species, nevertheless, can be quite similar. Notice on this last bird, which appears to be somewhat smaller than the others, that the eye is much less surrounded by black, making the eye very distinct. The best field mark is the yellow tear drop coming from the eye at the base of the bill. One of the joys of birding is being at the right place at the right time.  Both swan species are sporadic migrants and winter residents across western Washington, ranging from being common to uncommon.

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