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Trumpeter Swan

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Latin: Cygnus buccinator
Average length: M 59.0", F 57.0
Average weight: M 27.9 lbs., F 22.6 lbs.

Description: The plumage of adult trumpeter swans is completely white, though their heads and necks are often stained a rusty color from contact with ferrous minerals in the soils of wetland bottoms during feeding. The bill, legs and feet are black and the iris is brown. Both sexes are identical in appearance, but males typically are larger. The trumpeter swan is larger than the similar tundra swan, but it is difficult to separate them in the field. The trumpeter swan's call is more vociferous than that of the tundra swan and has been likened to the sound of a French horn. The tundra swan's call is high-pitched and reminiscent of snow geese.


Breeding: The trumpeter swan's historic breeding range extended in a wide band from the Bering Sea east through most of Canada and south to Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Presently, trumpeters breed in Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Alaska accounts for over 85 percent of the world's breeding population, and breeding areas outside of Alaska are very localized. Trumpeter swans construct nests over water (1-3 feet) in extensive beds of marsh vegetation, on small islands or on muskrat and beaver lodges, and lay an average of 5 eggs.


Migrating and Wintering: Trumpeter swans currently winter along the Gulf of Alaska coast and in southeast Alaska, British Columbia, western Washington and western Oregon. They make occasional appearances in California, eastern Nevada, western Utah, southern Montana, eastern Idaho, northwestern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota. Small resident populations occur in the Midwestern states, Saskatchewan and Ontario.


Population: Trumpeter swans were nearly extirpated as a result of over-harvesting and the widespread destruction and degradation of wetlands. In 1932, fewer than 70 trumpeters were known to exist worldwide.


Food habits: The limited information available on the diet of trumpeter swans indicates that a variety of marsh and aquatic plants compose the bulk of foods consumed. Where available, tubers of duck potato and sago pondweed are important items. The stems and leaves of sago and other pondweeds, white water buttercups, water milfoil, muskgrass, waterweed and duckweed, as well as the seeds of yellow pond lily, water shield and sedges, are also important parts of the trumpeters' diet.


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