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Trumpeter Swans—Mates for Life

Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceBy Tonya Veal
(Photos courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service) 

What has white feathers, a black bill, and eats up to 20 pounds of water plants a day?  Now you see how a trumpeter swan can grow to weigh between 25 and 35 pounds.  The trumpeter swan is the largest water bird in North America.  Their wings, fully outstretched, can be almost 8 feet wide. 

Trumpeter swans bob their long necks up and down when they talk to each other.  These swans are known for their deep, trumpet-like call.

Trumpeter swans pair up with a life partner when they are between two and four years old. Around the fourth year, the swan pair prepares to breed. and their babies are called cygnets. 

Trumpeter swans pick their nesting site carefully. The site is usually in a marshy area near a lake. Swans nests are made from water plants, grasses, and feathers.  Nests can be 6 to 12 feet wide and are often built on top of beaver lodges or muskrat mounds. Trumpeter nests sit atop these elevations with a protective area of water around them.

Most southern trumpeter swans do not migrate. Northern flocks fly south in late fall and head back home in early spring.  Trumpeter swans are found near lakes, ponds, rivers, and bays.  In winter, they spend time in fields or uplands. Trumpeters are commonly found in Alaska, Canada, Washington, and Michigan.

Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceIn the 1930s, trumpeter swans were killed off to less than 100 birds when land was cleared and marsh habitats were drained for building purposes.  Trumpeter swans were also hunted for their feathers and down to make quill pens and other products. Down is the protective layer of soft, small and fine feathers found next to the skin which are very good at insulating.

Today, through habitat preservation, hunting bans, and reintroduction projects, there are more than 15,000 trumpeters in North America. Danger of habitat loss remains a threat to trumpeter swans.  Trumpeter swans are a beautiful species of swan that are now flourishing.  To learn more about this species of swan, you can find more information on the following websites:
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