My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Swan Species

Swans are beatufiul creatures.  We have two American species but urban dwellers often see swans that are introduced from other countries. So I decided to blog about them all, since I had seen some of them at Sylvan Heights Bird Park.

Currently I'm around tundra swans, wintering in several of the wildlife refuges on the Carolina coast, including Alligator River, Mattamuskeet, and Pea Island. I spend a lot of time watching them while at Pea Island.  And the past two summers, I've worked at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge that was established to save the once almost extinct trumpeter swans.

First the Trumpeter Swans

They are bigger than are the tundra swans and have a more curvy neck.  They also seem ,more ungainly than the trumpeter swans.  But it is the difference in their bills and bill placement that mostly distinguishes them.

Adult and juvenile swans flying over Red Rock Lake Refuge

Juvenile trumpeter swan and northern shoveler at Red Rock Lakes NWR

Trumpeter swan at Sylvan Heights Bird Park

Head shot of a trumpeter swan showing how the bill is almost straight on the top, making a V with the forehead and forming a curve over the cheek
Tundra swans

They are more likely to be seen in groups, except on their far north nesting grounds.

One of the first pictures I took of tundra swans at Alligator River NWR

My favorite picture of a tundra swan family at Pea Island

The bill meets the head a lot differently on the tundra swan forming a C with the forehead

And the side view doesn't make a clean, single curve on a tundra swan like it does on a Trumpeter

The mute swan that comes from Europe, Asia, and north Africa and had gone feral in our  country. It is considered an invasive species and may be  removed from sites where we are working to bring back Trumpeters.

Mute swan pair

That black and orange bill is very distinctive

Australia has black swans, but occasionally they are seen in urban parks or in private collections.

No one will have trouble identifying a black swan

Europe has several swans. One of them the, whooper swan, is a native to just Finland.

Whooper swan picture from the Internet

Another European species is the Bewick's swan, which is a subspecies of the Tundra swan. 

Bewick's swan - picture from the Internet

Two swans come from South America

The black necked swan - taken at Sylvan Heights Bird Park

The smallest and cutest of all is the Coscoroba swan from South America
 - taken at Sylvan Heights Bird Park

For more bird blogs from around the world, click the picture.