The Tundra Swan, formerly known as the whistling swan, is a large bird with white feathers, black bill, short black legs and large black webbed feet. There is a small, oblong yellow patch at the base of the bill and just in front of the eye. The species name of the Tundra Swan is Cygnus columbianus. Tundra swans are the swan species that are native to North America, and the species that have historically been most in need of protection.
A full grown Tundra Swan boasts a wing span of between 180 cm and 210 cm. They measure between 120 cm and 148 cm in length and weigh approximately 5 kg to 8.2 kg. They mate for life. They can fly at a top speed of 88 km/h (55 mph). The Tundra Swan holds its neck and head erect while swimming and walking, with the crown and forehead displaying a rounded profile.
Young Tundra Swans are called cygnets. Born in late spring, by fall, they have dusky grayish feathers, with dusky pink, dark tipped bills. At one year they acquire their white plumage and dark bill. They do not breed until they are 4 to 5 years old.
In migration, the Tundra Swan can be distinguished by its mellow high pitched hoo-ho-hoo call, which is somewhat similar to that of the Canada Goose. Tundra swans nest in the Arctic and migrate thousands of miles in the winter to warmer southern areas. They can travel in groups of up to 100 swans or more as they migrate! They are highly adaptable – as they have lost some of their southern wetland habitat and food sources, they’ve adapted to eat agricultural waste instead.
Click this like to hear how a Tundra Swan sounds!
Trumpeter swans are the largest native waterfowl and the heaviest flying birds in North America. Their wingspans can reach up to 10 feet!
Around the age of 2-4 years, swans choose a mate which they will generally remain with for the rest of their lives. In some cases, however, they will choose a new mate if their partner dies or if they are unsuccessful at breeding.
Swans have a reputation as aggressive and territorial, and there’s no time of year they exemplify this more than during their breeding season. Swans – especially mute swans – will chase away perceived threats to their nests by hissing, flapping their wings, and swimming directly at their rivals.
Cygnus – the latin word for “swan” – is a brightly visible constellation also known as the northern cross. In Greek mythology, the constellation represents Orpheus, who was transformed into a swan after death – next to his lyre, in the constellation Lyra.
In the wild, swans can live to be over 20 years old!