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Trumpeter Swan


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 are separated into three populations, the Pacific, Rocky Mountain, and Interior, and breed in many northern US states and Canadian provinces. Trumpeter swans construct nests over shallow water in marsh vegetation, on small islands, or on muskrat and beaver lodges, and lay an average of 5 eggs.


Latin: Cygnus buccinator

Average length: M 59.0", F 57.0

Average weight: M 25.7 lbs., F 22.6 lbs.


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.

Trumpeter Swan Range Map

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.


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. However, this species is a conservation success story, as thanks to protection, reintroduction, and translocation initiatives, trumpeter swan populations are increasing in both size and distribution.

Migration and Wintering

Trumpeter swans currently winter along the northern Pacific coast and within the Central and Central West states. Small numbers of migratory trumpeters have recently been noted in the Northeast. Resident populations occur in several Midwestern states.