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Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator


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Trumpeter Swan
credit: Sasata/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT Has essentially pure white plumage although feathers on neck and belly are sometimes stained with mud, oxides, and algae. Legs are dark and bill is mainly dark, although close inspection reveals base of lower mandible to be pale. Upper surface of bill is straight (cf. Tundra Swan) and follows slope of forehead. JUVENILE Has mucky gunmetal grey plumage. Bill is dirty pink.

Dimensions Length: 60-72" (1.5-1.8 m)

Habitat Nests beside forested lakes. Winters on coastal marshes and interior farmland where birds roost on freshwater lakes.

Observation Tips Easiest to observe in winter, with sightings at Yellowstone (the species also breeds in small numbers in the vicinity) almost guaranteed.

Range California, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Western Canada, Plains, Southwest, Northwest, Alaska

Voice Utters a loud, nasal trumpeting oh-HO.

Discussion Large and impressive swan; the largest of its kind in the region and a conservation icon. Appreciably bigger than Tundra Swan when seen side-by-side. Note the plump body, relatively short legs, and extremely long neck. The bill is triangular in outline and looks disproportionately large for the size of the head (looks more in proportion in Tundra Swan). The sexes are similar. Grazes on grassland, and also feeds on aquatic plants uprooted by submerging long neck. In flight, head and neck are held outstretched.