We have two indigenous species of swans here: Tundra and Trumpeter. But, neither species lives here permanently because they winter to the south and breed to the north. We see them frequently as they pass through, for they are both large and are highly visible on the open waters of lake and stream. Ten to twenty years ago, the most common swan seen around here was the Tundra; for some time recently, it has been the Trumpeter.
Distinguishing between the two of them can prove difficult. Although they are different in size and breed in different places, when seen in isolation, they look very similar. David Sibley has written a web page on Distinguishing Trumpeter and Tundra Swans <https://www.sibleyguides.com/2006/02/distinguishing-trumpeter-and-tundra-swans/> which has guided some of the observations below. But, all the illustrations are from recent Trumpeter Swans. This has been a good year for Trumpeters, so much so, that these features will be spread over two postings.
After the age of two or three, most adult swans travel in pairs. They usually mate for life.
The swan’s plumage is all white… well, not always. The orange/brown staining on the head and neck is from the iron-rich water that they feed in. Both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans can experience this.
Swans sleep on water or land usually at night. These two are napping during the day.
A careful look at these five swans, shows four grey ones and one white one. The juvenile grey would have vanished about two months earlier in Tundra Swans. By mid-January virtually all Tundra Swans have acquired some white scapulars, while Trumpeters are still in full juvenile plumage. This picture was taken on February 10. These are Trumpeters.
A juvenile Trumpeter with mottled plumage flies behind an all-white adult.
And they fly off.