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Trumpeter Swan

About Trumpeter Swan

The long-necked Trumpeter Swan is the largest waterbird in North America. It is a native swan of forested habitats.

This is a huge swan, with a long sloping head and bill profile, as well as a relatively thick-based neck. The bare loral skin is as wide as the ear and narrowly encircles the eye. The shape of the upper edge of bill, where it meets the forehead, comes forward to a create a V-shaped point along the bill’s midline.

The adult is white, often it is stained yellowish on head and upper neck. The bill is black with an orange stripe on the lower mandible along the cutting edge. The legs are black. The younger birds appear dirty, pale brownish-gray throughtout. The bill is a dull pink with dark base and dark loral skin, also dark on tip and cutting edge.

This bird is most often confused with the Tundra Swan, but the Trumpeter is larger, has a longer, sloping bill with a V-shaped upper edge.

The call of this bird is a bugling oh-OH like an old car horn, second syllable emphasized.

This bird breeds in freshwater wetlands. They mate for life. They build their large nests using roots, reeds, rushes and grasses. They will line their nests with down feathers. They often build their nests on small islands and sometimes even on beaver dams.

The Trumpeter Swan needs at least 300 feet (91m) of water to take off.

The population of this bird suffered a great decrease up until the early 1900s. From the 1600s through the 1800s, the Trumpeter swan was hunted for its feathers. Its large flight feathers were used as writing quills, and these particular feathers were thought to provide the nicest quality of quill. In the 20th century, conservation efforts have allowed native western populations to increase to much greater numbers.