Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swan

Cygnus buccinator

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts

Body Length: 5 to 6 feet
Height 4 feet
Wingspan 7 or more feet
Distribution: Northwest coast of North America, from Alaska to Washington, and northern midwest region of the United States
Habitat: Ponds, lakes, and freshwater bodies
Wild Diet: Aquatic vegetation and invertebrates
Zoo Diet: Mixed greens and dog chow

Bugle boy-and girl

Why “trumpeter?” These swans (both males and females) give off a loud and deep honking call that sounds like a bugle or trumpet. Sometimes they trumpet once, and sometimes twice. When two trumpeter swans greet each other they set off a great, loud display of honking and spreading their wings—it is quite a sight. All this noise is produced in the syrinx (or voice box)—which is so long it coils around the swans’ breast bone.

Description

Trumpeter swans are the biggest waterfowl in North America, and one of the largest in the world. Waterfowl are birds that are well adapted to life in the water—like ducks, geese, and of course, swans. Trumpeter swans have a wingspan well over seven feet from tip to tip. When they stand on the ground, their long necks make the birds stand more than four feet tall. Male swans weigh in at over 35 pounds. That makes them one of the heaviest flying birds anywhere.

Status in the Wild

Trumpeter swans used to fly the skies all over the northern United States and Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. But settlers hunted these big birds and introduced them to the Europeon animal trade. The skins were used for ladies powder puffs. Swan feathers were prized as adornments for fashionable hats, and quills were made into pens. By the early 1930's, the majestic birds were thought to be nearly extinct.

Conservation Programs

Listed as "least concern" on the IUCN Red List ((International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).


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