Thank you to Mike Gardiner for this beautiful picture of a pair of Trumpeter Swans, taken north of Swan Hills a few weeks ago. There are two species of swans native to Alberta, the Trumpeter Swan and the Tundra Swan.
With a wingspan of close to six feet and weighing in at about 25 lbs, Trumpeter Swans have the distinction of being the largest species of waterfowl native to North America. Trumpeter Swans came close to extinction from overhunting, with only 77 breeding adults in Canada and 50 in the US in 1933. Thankfully, their population has improved to roughly 16,000 in North America today, but they are not entirely out of the woods yet.
Tundra Swans are slightly smaller, with a wingspan of just under five feet and weighing about 23 lbs. Tundra Swans can be difficult to distinguish from Trumpeter Swans, but one distinct difference is that Tundra Swans often have a yellow patch on the black facial skin, just below the eye. Tundra Swans used to be known as Whistling Swans due to the sound their wings made while flying.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette