Swan Song

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)
 IMGP9284 a
Trumpeters going back to the huddle. The smaller grey ones are immature Trumpeters.
IMGP9272 a
A pair feeding, along with a Mallard Duck.
IMGP9283 a
Trumpeter pair.
IMGP9270 ac


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13 Responses to Swan Song

  1. PEP says:

    These are beautiful. You should make a calender.
    My commander can\’t wait for duck hunting season, I believe it\’s around Thanksgiving over here. Anyway I\’m at work today so I need to get back to my task (smile). Have a great weekend.

  2. Cindy says:

    The pair taking off is a wonderful picture!  Here the DNR is trying to control the number of mute swans, so the trumpeter swans will have the nesting spots.  
    Enjoy the weekend.  Cindy

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the lovely shots of my favorites–the swans.  Glad to see they are still up there, as I know they will start their long journey south to my place soon.   I will let you know when they arrive, sometime in early November, usually.
    Glad to see you have been to my place–hope my story has not silenced your comments–I do so love to hear from you, as your words are always kind, and I appreciate your encouragement. 
    Hope your family is thriving, Steve!   Send some Ki to the swans, geese, from me…..and I also send it to you!

  4. Monica says:

    Love those birds !! I am not sure , but when we were driving through california on the I-5, I kept seeing
    these birds that looked like our blue Herons here, but they were totally white !! ?? Would they be the
    southern style of Herons, I wonder ??
    Is there such a thing as Tillamook cheese ??? Really ??
    So happy to please my friends with my photos.
    Next week I plan to add the photos from our visit in CA.
    Gotta love the palm trees…..and the sunshine…
    Moni ~~~~~~~~~

  5. Barb says:

    I think Swans are the most graceful bird ever.  I hope they hang around for another photo shoot or two!  That was an interesting bit about the iron in the marsh water turning their neck feathers a rusty colour.
    There were already flocks of Swans at Elk Island, passing through on their migration to warmer climates but I didn\’t have the energy to even try to get close enough for decent photos.  I just needed that 600mm lens LOL
    I hope you have a wonderful Saturday Steve!

  6. Suki x says:

    Hi Steve, well caught that last picture, and thanks for all that information, I have never imagined swans in Alaska but then again you are opening my mind to a country I only ever thought of as covered with ice and snow!   The pictures are beautiful swans are so gracefull, I hope you are able to get more pictures before they desert you
    Love Suki x

  7. PEP says:

    Do swans mate for life?

  8. Nae says:

    Hi Steve ~
    Beautiful birds, swans!  Swan Lake used to have a couple of swans — but some kids killed one of the mating pair — and no other swans have returned.  Very sad.
    Your wifes\’ quilts are beautiful.  Does she have someone else do the quilting or does she have a machine? 
    Thanks for the advice on the lense — I will go purchase one for each of my lenses.  I tried to take pictures of a boat in the channel this evening — but I shook too much — even with my elbows propped on my window sill — so I guess a good tripod needs to be my next investment.
    I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.
    God bless you and keep you,
    Nae  :o)

  9. Sheila says:

    Steve,   These swans are beautiful and I love your capture of the pair flying. I don\’t ever get to see them here and was completely surprised to find that the eastern Swans wintered in North Carolina at one time.   I want to investigate a bit more to see if there are any winter sites here left.   Next month I will be farther north on the Outer Banks of North  Carolina and will definately look for them and any photo ops!  Thank you for a very interesting post! Sheilaoh BTW thanks for the snowy moose tracks, really? they have hooves bigger than your feet or are you just messing with me??? are you sure it wasn\’t "big foot"?

  10. Tani says:

    Oh,beautiful. We have swans here,They seem to find the ponds in the cemetaries and call them home. Maybe they realize they are safe there. They seem to be used to ppl. The last shot of them flying is great,but I can see you nearly missed it,LOL Boy flight photos can be especially hard to get.

  11. Monica says:

    Hello again Steve, I had to  come back and look at those trumpeter swans again.
    They are so beautiful, elegant and screams romance.

  12. Nessa says:

    Lovel pics as always – my favourite is the one of the pair taking flight – perfect timing!

  13. Tani says:

    Steve. Good capture. BTW,I like the uncropped better. If I were to work it I would crop it a bit on the left and top to get the action more in the left corner of the shot,but leave in alot more of the background to show perspective of the landscape they were in.JUST my way of thinking anyway,LOL

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