With the later season comes a gathering of the largest waterfowl, the swans.
There are two types of swans that nest in Alaska, Trumpeter and Tundra swans.
The Trumpeter are the largest of waterfowl birds, the males averaging 28 pound and the females averaging 22 pounds.
Eggs of a trumpeter swan can be 5 inches in length.
They were so overhunted that by 1932 there were only 68 trumpeter know in the wild (although Alaska was not yet known).
Trumpeters were identified in 1850, but it was not until 1954 that trumpeters were discovered in Alaska.
These are the western Trumpeters, some 80% of which nest in Alaska and winter on the west coast from Cordova Alaska to a large concentration on Vancouver Island.
The eastern trumpeters nest in the Canadian Arctic and winter on the east coast, mostly in North Carolina.
The above info from Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, Trumpeter Swan Population Status. 2000, there were about 17,500 west coast trumpeters counted in the study, mostly Alaska swans, which was a 500% increase over similar counts in 1968.
These are a few of my first pictures of the trumpeters, along with a few Tundra swans and Mallard Ducks.
I took these from the shoulder of the Seward Highway, just a few minutes away from my house.
The light was marginal, with grey skies and snow squalls. Hopefully I can find some better light before they leave!
Some of the pictures show the necks are colored with a rusty tint, this is due to the swans feeding in naturally iron rich marsh water (ADF&G).
Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
Trumpeters going back to the huddle. The smaller grey ones are immature Trumpeters.
A pair feeding, along with a Mallard Duck.