I was very happy to see the swans in such large numbers on our recent trip to North Carolina. I couldn't get them all in one frame, there were dozens of them, along with several Canada Geese, and also a number of ducks.
I couldn't get a photo of the ducks. They swam away as soon as we appeared, but I did manage several shots of the swans and geese. Not as close as I would have liked.
I noticed that these swans had black beaks and legs, at first thinking they were Trumpeter swans. Later I found out they were Tundra, a first for me.
There can be anywhere from 65,000 to 75,000 in North Carolina during the winter months. They like the mild winter of the Inner Banks
There is also an abundant food source and resting waters for the swans.
Tundra Swans have a wing span of 7 feet and they stand almost 4 feet tall. An adult bird will weigh up to 23 lbs.
Adults are solid white and the immature swan has more gray tones, particularly in their head and neck area.
Just like geese, they mate for life.
Tundra Swans nest along the northern coast of the Canadian Arctic, all the way to western Alaska. When they make the 3,000 mile plus journey from their arctic nesting grounds to North Carolina, it often takes them three months to reach their destination.
They remain here until February or early March before making the long migration back to the arctic.
The American explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) called them 'whistling swans' because of their unique calls. (This man was also a soldier, politician and public administrator, but best known for being the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.)
They are thought to be only two species of swans native to North America, the Trumpeter Swan and the Tundra Swan.
Tundra Swans should not be confused with the larger Trumpeter and Mute Swans. Trumpeter Swans are found almost exclusively in the mid-west and western states. Mute Swans are generally non-migratory, and can be found scattered throughout North Carolina. They are a non-native species that can be quite aggressive if approached.
I found the above diagram online showing the differences.
Both parents tend to the young, leading them to feeding sites in water. Adults may paddle with feet to bring submerged food to the surface to feed their young, and they fledge in two to three months but remain with their parents at least through the first winter.
We often saw them dipping their heads underwater, and also upending themselves.
Their heads can reach three feet below the surface.
We had things to do but honestly? I could have pulled up a chair and watched them for hours.
Thank you for looking and
have a great weekend.
Hello Denise, Awesome post and photos on the Tundra Swan. They are beautiful birds. There can be large flocks of these swans around the Chesapeake Bay too. Have a happy day and weekend.ReplyDelete
Thank you Eileen and that's interesting about the Chesapeake Bay. Happy weekend to you :)Delete
this is amazing and all of your info is information I never knew. it is all new to me. I have never even seen ONE swan in the wild. I saw swans at a park, Jungle Gardens, 2 black swans. the only ones I have seen. did is say this is amazing??? yowsa! I would love to see these majestic birds. I had no idea they were that big or that they live in North America. Thanks, Denise. love this post...ReplyDelete
Thank you Sandra! I don't see swans that often so this was an amazing experience to me also. You are so very welcome, always happy when you enjoy what I share :)Delete
Amazing Denise. Sandra sent me here and I'm glad she did! Wow. And I loved reading your narration and background of the swans!ReplyDelete
Thank you Anni, I will have to thank Sandra when I go over and visit. Glad you enjoyed those beautiful swans and the information.Delete
Thanks for that diagram, I did not know that.ReplyDelete
You are very welcome Christine and thank you :)Delete
how wonderful I love swans, great photosReplyDelete
Me too Linda, and thank you :)Delete
What a pleasurable, rich, and informative post, D!ReplyDelete
Thank you Cloudia, so glad you liked it :)Delete
How amazing. We see our swans in ones and twos. If I had seen that many the 'other things' would have had to wait.ReplyDelete
Thank you EC, other things and also did I mention it was very cold? :)))Delete
Hi there Denise, I enjoyed reading about the Tundra Swans and also the photos.ReplyDelete
In comparison to the conditions where they nest, this little spot must be so mild (even though cold) - they're having their holidays ;D)
In Lakes Entrance we'll sometimes sit and watch our black swans antics of bobbing for greens, its a lovely way to pass time and can certainly understand how you felt. Cheers now xx
I love your black swans Sue, such a beautiful bird. I would love to see them in their natural habitat.Delete
Amazing shots. I am pretty sure that I have never seen a tundra swan live. The effort of life just amazes me. These tens of thousands of birds migrating back and forth every year is just fabulous.ReplyDelete
This was my first time seeing them with my own eyes. I agree, all those birds who migrate thousands of miles for survival, truly one of nature's wonders. Thank you Yogi :)Delete
Super images of the Trumpeter Swans, a bird I have never seen, I find swans difficult to get decent images from without the white burning out and loosing detail.
All the best,
Hi John, thank you, my first sighting also. I agree, I had a few whited out ones. All the best to you too :)Delete
A first for me, I have never seen a Tundra Swan. They look exactly like Trumpeters! I was going to ask you what is the difference, but you have that well covered! Making this a perfect post.ReplyDelete
Always fun to see a bird for the first time isn't it Ginny? I rarely get to see swans so when I do I am inwardly jumping up and down :) To see this many was a gift.Delete
I did enjoy seeing all of your photographs here, and many thanks too for the additional information … appreciated that.ReplyDelete
All the best Jan
So happy you enjoyed Jan and you are very welcome. I always enjoy finding out more about these beautiful swans myself. All the best to you too :)Delete
Wow what an interesting post and fabulous photos. Their migration is amazing.ReplyDelete
Thank you Diane, so glad you enjoyed this. They are truly amazing :)Delete
You gave us enough photos to watch for a while. Awesome photos. The swans go through here on migration but are hard to get close to.ReplyDelete
Thank you Red, glad you get to see them too. Near the start of their migration point? :)Delete
So many swans! How neat!ReplyDelete
Thanks Linda, exactly what I thought :)Delete
Thanks for this, Denise. It's been a long time since I saw so many water birds.ReplyDelete
You are very welcome Valerie: This was the second time for me to see so many in great number. The first were starlings by their thousands settling in a farmer's field on one of our road trips. That was an amazing sight too but it has been many years since I witnessed that event..Delete
Excelente trabalho fotográfico.ReplyDelete
Um abraço e bom Domingo.
Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
Muito obrigado! Envio um abraço e desejo uma boa semana pela frente :)Delete
What a wealth of information about these magnificent birds. What an experience to see them up close. Your pictures are the next best thing for me.ReplyDelete
Mate for Life???? What an unusual concept. lol
Thank you NTNPNN :) I enjoy learning about the subjects I take with photos.Delete
What a sight to see! So many! We have trumpeter swans visit our bay in spring but only briefly, I would love to see your masses of them! That would be a sight to behold!ReplyDelete
Hi Laurie, how neat to see your trumpeter swans. It was a wonderful sight :)Delete
You got some fantastic shots. Glad you enjoyed yourself in spite of having things to do. Have a wonderful week.ReplyDelete
Hi Liberty Bell, thank you :) The things to do I should have explained better. We were with my sister-in-law who was very kind to take us to several places during our trip. Many highlights and I think we would both agree, this was top of the list.Delete
ooooh, i know that excitement...to find "anything" swimming in a lake!!! it is nice to find a species that you have never seen!!ReplyDelete
the ducks are the worst at being camera shy, my wood duck is not and that is so shocking!!!
i enjoyed the education denise, most of it i did not know!! i hope you are having a happy sunday!!
Yes, that is exactly how I feel Debbie. Your wood duck was fabulous! Thank you Debbie, I am happy you enjoyed :)Delete
Beautiful photos! I saw swans in Zurich, Switzerland in November 1969 and was amazed they could tolerate the cold. The next day, it snowed and the swans were gone.ReplyDelete
Thank you Gigi. That's a very nice memory you shared Gigi :)Delete
It always makes me happy to see big flocks of birds and so I smiled all through reading this post. Swans seem kind of magical anyway (probably because they feature so often in the fairy tales we grew up with). I appreciate the research you did ... did not know about our two (only) native swans and always appreciate ID help like you provide here.ReplyDelete
They are magical Sallie, I agree :) Thank you, I am always happy to share any information I find about these beautiful birds.Delete
What great photos and description of the swans. I, too, would have been content to watch them for hours!ReplyDelete
Hi Barb, thank you, glad you enjoyed :)Delete
I visited your blog Barb and the one with the fox tracks was really beautiful!Delete
The swans certainly are beauties.ReplyDelete
I agree, thank you William :)Delete