Species of the Week: The Trumpeter Swan

Photo by Mark Read

This week we have a bird with a very interesting story. The Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator), North America’s heaviest native bird and largest species of waterfowl, actually almost went extinct in the early 1930s, largely due to hunting (both for meat and the beautiful feathers). Reintroduction plans throughout Canada and the United States have been successful in bringing this beautiful bird back from the brink. Thanks are owed especially to the discovery of a large breeding population in Alaska, which was used to help re-introduce the bird into its historic range, bringing the population back to a Least Concern status. Since the Trumpeter Swan is so large (males are often over 26 pounds), they need a lot of space to take off – preferring at least 100 meters of open water. Because of this, you will often see them swimming in large ponds, wide rivers and quiet wetlands. Loon Lake, and the Black Creek wetland on the Lally Homestead Trail are good places to look for them, though we don’t see them very often. Native Trumpeter Swan populations will migrate during the winter, but introduced swans often do not. Swans form monogamous breeding pairs at age 3 or 4, and nest on beaver dams or floating vegetation, laying 4-6 eggs and warming them with their webbed feet. You may hear a Trumpeter Swan’s loud trumpet-like call before you see one – it’s like listening to a band warm-up from the sky!

This entry was posted in Friends of Murphys Point, Murphys Point, Murphys Point Provincial Park, Species of the Week. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s