It is the American counterpart and a close relative of the whooper swan (Cygnus) of Eurasia, and even has been considered the same species by some authorities. By 1933, fewer than 70 wild trumpeters were known to exist, and extinction seemed imminent, until aerial surveys discovered a Pacific population of several thousand trumpeters around Alaska's Copper River.
Careful reintroduction by wildlife agencies and the Trumpeter Swan Society gradually restored the North American wild population to over 46,000 birds by 2010. The trumpeter swan is the largest extant species of waterfowl, and both the heaviest and longest native bird of North America.
The weight of adult birds is typically 7–13.6 kg (15–30 lb). Possibly due to seasonal variation based on food access and variability due to age, average weights in males have been reported to range from 10.9 to 12.7 kg (24 to 28 lb) and from 9.4 to 10.3 kg (21 to 23 lb) in females.
It is one of the heaviest living birds or animals capable of flight, and, in terms of average mass, the heaviest flying bird in the world. Alongside the mute swan (Cygnus color), Dalmatian pelican (Pelicans crisps), Lori mustard (Arrests Lori), and Andean condor (Vulture graphs), it is one of a handful to weigh in excess of 10 kg (22 lb) between the sexes, and one survey of wintering trumpeters found it averaged second only to the condor in mean mass.
It is the second heaviest wild waterfowl ever found, as one mute swan was found to weigh a massive 23 kg (51 lb), but it was unclear whether the latter swan was still capable of flight because of its bulk. The adult trumpeter swan's plumage is entirely white.
Like mute swan cygnets, the cygnets of the trumpeter swan have light gray plumage and pinkish legs, gaining their white plumage after about a year. As with the whooper swan, this species has upright posture and generally swims with a straight neck.
The trumpeter swan has a large, wedge-shaped black bill that can, in some cases, be minimally lined with salmon-pink coloration around the mouth. The legs are gray-pink in color, though in some birds can appear yellowish gray to even black.
The mute swan, introduced to North America, is scarcely smaller. However, it can easily be distinguished by its orange bill and different physical structure (particularly the neck, which is typically held curved as opposed to straight in the trumpeter).
The mute swan is often found year-around in developed areas near human habitation in North America, whereas trumpeters are usually only found in pristine wetlands with minimal human disturbance, especially while breeding. The tundra swan (C. Colombians) more closely resembles the trumpeter, but is tiny.
However, some trumpeter swans have yellow loses; many of these individuals appear to be heuristic and have paler legs than typical trumpeters. Distinguishing tundra and trumpeter swans from a distance (when size is harder to gauge) can be challenging without direct comparison but it is possible thanks to the trumpeter's obviously longer neck (the great length of which is apparent even when the swan is not standing or swimming upright) and larger, wedge-shaped bill as compared to the tundra swan.
They are loud and somewhat musical creatures, with their cry sounding similar to a trumpet, which gave the bird its name. Approximate summer range of the three regional populations of trumpeter swans in North AmericaBeginning in 1968, repeated in 1975, and then conducted at 5-year intervals, a cooperative continental survey of trumpeter swans was last conducted in 2015.
The survey assesses trumpeter swan abundance and productivity throughout the entire breeding ranges of the three recognized North American populations: the Pacific Coast (PCP), Rocky Mountain (Rap), and Interior (IP) populations (see Figure). From 1968 to 2010 the population has increased from 3,722 to approximately 46,225 birds, in large part due to re-introductions to its historic range.
Their breeding habitat is large shallow ponds, undisturbed lakes, pristine wetlands and wide slow rivers, and marshes in northwestern and central North America, with the largest numbers of breeding pairs found in Alaska. They prefer nesting sites with enough space for them to have enough surface water for them to take off, as well as accessible food, shallow, unpolluted water, and little or no human disturbance.
Natural populations of these swans migrate to and from the Pacific coast and portions of the United States, flying in V-shaped flocks. In the winter, they migrate to the southern tier of Canada, the eastern part of the northwest states in the United States, especially to the Red Rock Lakes area of Montana, the north Puget Sound region of northwest Washington state ; they have even been observed as far south as Pagoda Springs, Colorado.
Historically, they ranged as far south as Texas and southern California. In addition, there is a specimen in the Museum of Comparative Zoology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that was shot by F. B. Armstrong in 1909 at Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Since 1992, trumpeter swans have been found in Arkansas each November – February on Madness Lake outside of Weber Springs. In early 2017, a juvenile trumpeter swan took up residence in the French Broad River in Asheville, North Carolina, marking the first such sighting in that part of the state.
Non-migratory trumpeter swans have also been artificially introduced to some areas of Oregon, where they never originally occurred. Because of their natural beauty, they are suitable water fowl to attract bird watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts.
Introductions of non-indigenous species in the Western states, for example through the Oregon Trumpeter Swan Program (Tsp), have also been met with criticism, but generally the perceived attractiveness of natural sites has priority over the original range of any given species. In winter, they may eat crop remnants in agricultural fields, but more commonly they feed while swimmingThese birds feed while swimming, sometimes up-ending or dabbling to reach submerged food.
They will eat both the leaves and stems of submerged and emergent vegetation. They will also dig into muddy substrate underwater to extract roots and tubers.
In winter, they may also eat grasses and grains in fields. Feeding activity, and the birds' weights, often peaks in the spring as they prepare for the breeding season.
The young initially include insects, small fish, fish eggs and small crustaceans in their diet, providing additional protein, and change to a vegetation-based diet over the first few months. Like other swans, trumpeter swans often mate for life, and both parents participate in raising their young, but primarily the female incubates the eggs.
Occasionally, if his mate dies, a male trumpeter swan may not pair again for the rest of his life. The female lays 3–12 eggs, with 4 to 6 being average, in a mound of plant material on a small island, a beaver or muskrat lodge, or a floating platform on a clump of emergent vegetation.
The same location may be used for several years and both members of the pair help build the nest. The nest consists of a large, open bowl of grasses, edges and various aquatic vegetation and have ranged in diameter from 1.2 to 3.6 m (3.9 to 11.8 ft), the latter after repeated uses.
The eggs are quite possibly the largest of any flying bird alive today, in comparison they are about 20% larger in dimensions and mass than those of an Andean condor (Vulture graphs), which attains similar average adult weights, and more than twice as heavy as those of Lori custards (Arrests Lori). The incubation period is 32 to 37 days, handled mainly by the female, although occasionally by the male as well.
The young are able to swim within two days and usually are capable of feeding themselves after, at most, two weeks. Adults go through a summer Mount when they temporarily lose their flight feathers.
Young trumpeter swans may have as little as 40% chance of survival due variously to disturbance and destruction by humans, predation, nest flooding, and starvation. In some areas, though, the breeding success rate is considerably greater and, occasionally, all cygnets may reach maturity.
Mortality in adults is quite low, with the survival rate usually being 80–100% annually, unless they are hunted by humans. Predators of trumpeter swan eggs include common ravens (Corvus coral), common raccoons (Procyon motor), wolverines (Gulo), American black bears (URSS Americans), grizzly bears (URSS actor horrible), coyote (Cans la trans), wolves (Cans lupus), mountain lions (Puma concolor), and northern river otters (Contra condenses).
Nest location can provide partial protection from most mammalian nest predators, especially if placed on islands or floating vegetation in deep waters. Most of the same predators will prey on young cygnets, as will common snapping turtle (Chelhydra serpentine), California gull (Lars Californians), great horned owl (Bubo Virginians), red fox (Vulpes) and American mink (Muster vision).
Larger cygnets and, rarely, nesting adults may be ambushed by golden eagle (Aquila Chrysostom), bobcat (Lynx Rufus), and probably both coyotes and gray wolves. When their eggs and young are threatened, the parents can be quite aggressive, initially displaying with head bobbing and hissing.
If this is not sufficient, the adults will physically combat the predator, battering with their powerful wings and biting with their large bills; adults have managed to kill predators equal to their own weight in confrontations. Predation of adults when they are not nesting is rare; they may be hunted by golden and bald eagles, but substantiated cases are few.
Photos of an exceptional attack by a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on adult trumpeter swan in flight were taken in 2008, although the swan survived the predation attempt. Adult and three juvenile trumpeter swans on the shore of Woods Lake, near Obama, British Columbia In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the trumpeter swan was hunted heavily, for game or meat, for the soft swan skins used in powder puffs, and for their quills and feathers.
In 1908 Edward Treble wrote of the decline in the hunt with the number sold annually dropping from 1,312 in 1854 to 122 in 1877. Sir John Richardson wrote in 1831 that the trumpeter “is the most common Swan in the interior of the fur-counties...
It is to the trumpeter that the bulk of the Swan-skins imported by the Hudson's Bay Company belong.” By the early twentieth century breeding trumpeter swans were nearly extirpated in the United States, with a remnant population of fewer than 70 wild trumpeters in remote hot springs in or near Yellowstone National Park.
Surprising news came from a 1950s aerial survey of Alaska's Copper River when several thousand trumpeters were discovered. In 1918 Joseph Grinned wrote that trumpeter swans once bred in North America from northwestern Indiana west to Oregon in the U.S., and in Canada from James Bay to the Yukon, and they migrated as far south as Texas and southern California.
In 1960 Winston E. Bank also placed their breeding range as far south as Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, northwestern Indiana, but in Michigan turned this line northwards, placing a hypothetical eastern boundary up through Ontario to western Quebec and the eastern shore of James Bay. In 1984, Harry G. Lumen posited that trumpeter swans may have been extirpated from eastern Canada by native people armed with firearms prior to the arrival of European explorers and noted archaeological remains of trumpeter swans as far east as Port Au Choir, Newfoundland dating to 2,000 BCE.
Early efforts to reintroduce this bird into other parts of its original range, and to introduce it elsewhere, have had modest success, as suitable habitats have dwindled and the released birds do not undertake migrations. One impediment to the growth of the trumpeter swan population around the Great Lakes is the presence of a growing non-native Eurasian mute swan population who compete for habitat.
One of the largest conservation sites for the trumpeter swan is located in Lois Hole Provincial Park. It is located adjacent to the renamed Trumpeter subdivision of Edmonton, Alberta, within Big Lake.
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, part of Michigan State University ’s Kellogg Biological Station, obtained trumpeter swans from Alaska for re-introduction to Michigan beginning in 1986. The population has grown via continued re-introductions and organic growth to 756 birds by 2015.
As of 2013, the trumpeter swan is no longer listed as threatened in the state of Minnesota. In the winter months, a large population of trumpeter swans can be seen in the city of Monticello, Minnesota.
The Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration Group started a conservation project in 1982, using eggs collected in the wild. Despite lead poisoning in the wild from shotgun pellets, the prospects for restoration are considered good.
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Brown bear, URSS actor middendorffi, predation on a Trumpeter Swan, Cygnus succincter, nest. Gray Wolf predation on Trumpeter Swan eggs.
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