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Home > About the Chesapeake > Exploring the Bay > Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl > Types of Waterfowl > Tundra Swan
Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)
Tundra Swan
Overview:

Large bird 48” to 55” long with an average wingspan of 80” (more than 6 feet!). Plumage is bright white, the bill charcoal black, and the neck is extremely long. Most birds have a yellow dot on the bill below each eye.

Habitat:

Marshes around rivers and bays; fields with leftover grain.

Range:

Tundra swans nest in breeding grounds in remote parts of Alaska and northern Canada, migrating south to Chesapeake marshes in late autumn and retracing their path in early spring.

Diet:

Aquatic plants, clams, grain.

Call:

Depending on the listener, the tundra swan’s woo-HOO has been described as a high bark or a bugling whoop. Listen to a sample (Requires RealPlayer)

Cool Facts:

Tundra swans are the only swans native to North America. Tagging studies show that a given migrating bird may use the Atlantic Flyway one year and the Pacific Flyway the next. Although at one time their diet consisted mainly of aquatic plants and clams, like Canada geese tundra swans have learned to take advantage of the leftover corn and wheat in stubble fields.

The decoy pictured is from the collection of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and was photographed by Middleton Evans. Waterfowl sounds are courtesy of the Macaulay Lab of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


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