What is that bird? A Trumpeter Swan!

What is that bird? It is a Trumpeter Swan! Our eagle-eyed camera operators found it yesterday on our Mississippi Flyway cam and we went to ornithologist Tom Prestby for an expert opinion. So how we tell a Trumpeter Swan from the far more common Tundra Swan?

  • Behavior. Our first clue that we were seeing something a little different? There were only two swans. Tundra swans tend to travel in flocks – like snow, a blizzard of white from the north! That told us that these two birds merited a closer look.
  • Bill and eyes. Trumpeter swans have long, wedge-shaped or straight bills, and very little separation between their eyes and black masks. Tundra swans have slightly concave bills, rounder heads, and more separation between their masks and eyes, which makes their eyes more distinct and easier to see.
  • No yellow spot. Tundra swans commonly have a yellow spot between their bill and their eye (although it isn’t always very visible).
  • Forehead shape. Tundra swans tend to have a U-shaped forehead, while Trumpeter swans tend to have a V-shaped forehead.

Trumpeter swans are our biggest native waterfowl, stretching to 6 feet in length and weighing more than 25 pounds. Although they are no longer endangered, they aren’t especially common in the area, which makes this sighting a real treat!

To view swan sightings in the area, click here: https://bit.ly/31ebzKk. To read an article about swan recovery in Minnesota, follow this link: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/issues/2017/mar-apr/trumpeter-swan-history.html. To listen to a story about swan recovery in Wisconsin, click here: https://www.wpr.org/30-years-trumpeter-swan-recovery-work-wisconsin