Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
 
Status in the Checklist Area - Fairly Common
     
 
Information

Breeds in the far north of North America in tundra ponds and lakes. Winters within North America. Breeding pairs have a long-term bond. Young remain with their parents for their first year. Mixes with the more common Trumpeter Swan at feeding and roosting sites. Typically arrives to our area in early November and will leave for their breeding grounds by March and will usually be gone by early April. Formerly known at Whistling Swan. Neck collars used for scientific study and these birds are sometimes encountered.

A subspecies of Tundra Swan, the 'Bewick's Swan' (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) occurs in Asia and Europe but has been on a few occasions in the checklist area.

Similar species:
While slightly smaller in body and bill, Tundra Swans are still very similar to the Trumpeter Swan. Most Tundra Swans have a small yellow patch of varying sizes on the bill near the eye. This is not always visitble in the field or if covered by mud. Some individuals lack yellow but this is uncommon. A Tundra Swan's bill is shorter and head structure more rounded than a Trumpeter Swan. Juveniles of both species are similar. Juvenile Tundra Swans have whiter backs than Trumpeter Swans. Also, birds remain together as family units over the winter and the young bird's adult parents are never far away which can help with identification.

The Bewick's Swan subspecies has a large yellow patch on the bill that goes partially or completely over the top of the bill. Otherwise, they are the same as the Tundra Swans we see here. (see photos below)

Sources:
Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, (1988)

     
Noteworthy Data
 
Date
Location
Source(s)
Comments
October 20, 2012 Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford G. Gadsden A pair of adults and two juveniles. Earliest record for the checklist area.
April 3, 2011 Greendale, Chilliwack G. Gadsden An adult and juvenile with Trumpeter Swans. Latest record for checklist area.
June 7, 2008 Sumallo River, Manning Park J. Vooys 2008 An adult in the Sumallo River in Manning Park. Was observed feeding and appeared in good health.
December 15, 2007 Chilliwack D. Knopp The Christmas Bird Count recorded 143 individual Tundra Swans and 1,036 Trumpeter Swans.
February 9, 2006 Hopedale and Adams Road, Chilliwack G. Gadsden 2006a Confirmed as a Bewick's Swan (L. Evans 2006). Seen among a flock of Tundra and Trumpeter Swans in a short-grass field. Also present February 10, 2006.
January 12, 2003 Nicomen Island J. Vooys Bewick's Swan.
February 3, 2002 Abbotsford D. Bastaja Bewick's Swan. Seen until February 24, 2002. Same bird as seen at Kilby Provincial Park on January 2, 2002?
January 2, 2002 Kilby Provincial Park J. Vooys Bewick's Swan.
December 1, 2000 Kilby Provincial Park

M. Brown
D. Knopp 2000

Bewick's Swan. Seen until December 12, 2000 (D. Knopp 2000).
 
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