Over the last few weeks, we have been watching flocks of trumpeter swans fly past our house in the mornings and evenings. Our house is luckily located along a local fly-way, and we see geese, ducks, and other birds flying by all year long. Swans are not uncommon winter visitors, but we have seen more this year than ever before. We suspect that it may be at least partly due to the weather. Warm temperatures mean that local lakes and ponds are not frozen yet, and a lack of snow means that fields are still exposed, allowing the swans to forage for grain. Last weekend, we went for a drive to discover where the swans went after they flew by our house.
Not far from the river, we found fifty or more swans gathered in a field. We stopped by the side of the road to take a few photos but, even though we were quite a distance away, the swans clearly did not like our presence. The grey individuals in the photo above are juveniles.
As we watched, we were also able to appreciate how the swans got their name. They were constantly calling to each other, and to me, they sound exactly like out-of-tune trumpets.
A short distance down the road we found another couple dozen swans in a small pond. These swans were unconcerned by our presence at the side of the road, and were busy preening themselves and relaxing in the late afternoon sunlight.
In British Columbia, trumpeter swans breed in the north in marshy lakes, and head south to winter both on the coast and in the interior. Although the trumpeter swan was once hunted extensively for its feathers and nearly became extinct, its population has increased considerably and is currently stable in BC. The trumpeter is also the largest native waterfowl in North America.
The following morning the swans flew by our house once again, and I attempted to take a photo of them in flight.
Sadly, the light was poor, and the swans were far enough away and moving so fast that it was almost impossible. This photo – even cropped and adjusted for colour – was the best I could do. Maybe another day. . .