Overview

Distribution

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: Formerly throughout North America from central Alaska to western Hudson Bay (James Bay), southeast to Nova Scotia, with the southern limit extending to northwest Mississippi and eastern Arkansas in the east and possibly California in the west. Present breeding range includes Alaska (Interior, Southcentral, Gulf of Alaska, and Chilkat basin), Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Saskatchewan, and Ontario (Mitchell 1994). Alaska contains over 85% of the world's breeding population, and breeding areas outside of Alaska are very localized (Mitchell 1994).

NONBREEDING: Formerly from the present range in southeast Alaska (a few small flocks along the Gulf of Alaska), along the British Columbia coast, Washington, Oregon, and occasionally California but historically extending to southern California, possibly Arizona and New Mexico, along Gulf Coast to central Florida, and along Alantic coast as far as ice free waters existed (Mitchell 1994). Present range includes the Gulf of Alaska coast, southeast Alaska, British Columbia, western Washington, western Oregon, occasionally California, eeastern Nevada, western Utah, southern Montana, eastern Idaho, northwestern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, and small resident populations in the midwestern states, Saskatchewan, and Ontario (Mitchell 1994). In the contiguous United States and adjacent Canada, the highest winter densities occur in western Wyoming, western British Columbia (coast and interior lakes), southeastern Oregon, and southwestern Montana, mainly on wildlife refuges (Root 1988).

Interior population (resulting from transplants and captive propagation) consists of flocks in Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota, and Hennepin County Park Reserve District, Minnesota; these gradually are exhibiting southward movement in fall but still are dependent on supplemental feeding.

Rocky Mountain population nests in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the United States (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) and winters primarily in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Spahr et al. 1991). Breeding areas in Canada include Peace River area of Alberta and British Columbia and Toobally Lakes area of Yukon, plus some areas farther north in Northwest Territories (Johnson and Herter 1989). U.S. flocks of the Rocky Mountain population currently summer in three locations (1) the Tri-state Area of eastern Idaho, southwestern Montana, and western Wyoming, (2) the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and (3) Malheur NWR and Summer Lake area of Oregon. Trumpeter swans at Ruby Lake and Malheur NWRs were derived primarily from swans that were transplanted from Red Rock Lakes NWR, beginning in 1941 (Pacific Flyway Study Committee 2002).

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Trumpeter swans are found throughout the Nearctic Region, mainly in Alaska, Canada, and the northern United States. A large percentage is found in Alaska, specifically in Prince William Sound and the Copper River Delta. Some trumpeter swans have even taken up residence in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Grant, T., P. Henson. 1994. Feeding ecology of trumpeter swans breeding in south central Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management, 58/4: 774.
  • Henson, P., J. Cooper. 1993. Trumpeter Swan incubation in areas of differing food quality. Journal of Wildlife Management, 57/4: 709-716.
  • Mills, J. 1991. The Swan That Would Not Fly. National Wildlife, 29/6: 4.
  • Schmidt, J., M. Lindberg, D. Johnson, J. Schmutz. 2009. Environmental and human influences of trumpeter swan habitat occupancy in Alaska. Condor, 111/2: 266/275.
  • Squires, J. 1995. Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) food habits in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. American Midland Naturalist, 133/2: 274.
  • Squires, J., S. Anderson. 1997. Changes in trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) activities. American Midland Naturalist, 138/1: 208.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

Western North America.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Trumpeter swans were once abundant and widespread in North America.
Their breeding range extended from Alaska east to Ontario and south to
Oregon, the Rocky Mountains, Nebraska, and northern Missouri [20]. Now
only two major populations remain [4,17,20]. The Pacific population
breeds in Alaska and British Columbia, and winters along the Pacific
Coast from Alaska to northern Oregon [20,23]. The mid-continental
population nests in Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest
Territories, Saskatchewan, and the Greater Yellowstone region [20,23].
Overhunting of trumpeter swans destroyed most of their traditional
migration patterns to southerly winter habitats. As a result, virtually
all mid-continental trumpeter swans, regardless of their summer range,
now winter in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem [23].

Trumpeter swans have been transplanted from Red Rock Lakes National
Wildlife Refuge, Montana, to several other National Wildlife Refuges
(NWR): Malheur NWR in Oregon, Ruby Lake NWR in Nevada, Lacreek NWR in
South Dakota, and Turnbull NWR in Washington. A small number of
breeding swans occur on all four refuges [4]. In Canada, attempts are
underway to reintroduce trumpeter swans in southern Ontario and in Elk
Island National Park [2].

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains

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Occurrence in North America

AK ID MT NV OR SD WA WY
AB BC NT YK MEXICO

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Physical Description

Morphology

As the largest North American swans, these birds can weigh up to 13.5 kg and measure approximately 1.6 m in length. Wingspan can often exceed 2 m. When they are young "cygnets", the bill features some degree of pink but is always black at the base. The feet and tarsi (portion of the foot that makes up the ankle region) may be a grey-yellow. The body is light to dark grey, and will gradually whiten with age. At age two, most but not all of their feathers have turned white, except for a few on the upper portion of the body.

At adulthood their feet, bill, and tarsals are black. They have pink to red mouths which can be seen as a small pink or red line (a 'grin') on the bill. Their feathers are completely white. There is also a small percentage of trumpeter swans that have a grey-white tint for feather color instead of pure white.

They appear very similar to tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus), with the most reliable differences found near the beak. Viewed face-forward or top-down, trumpeter swans have an angular, v-shaped forehead at the base of the beak. Tundra swans have a curved or straight forehead. Most tundra swans have a yellow-white 'teardrop' on their black beak, however this is not always a reliable field mark.

Range mass: 9.5 to 13.5 kg.

Range length: 1.4 to 1.6 m.

Range wingspan: 2.0 to 2.4 m.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Size

Length: 152 cm

Weight: 11900 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 97 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
 
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Trumpeter swans live on land but always in close proximity to water. They are found in wetlands with open water and areas with many rivers or streams. Waters can be salt water, fresh water, or brackish water. Their climate ranges from temperate to polar. Reasons for their choice of environment have to do with their diet and nesting habits. Cygnus buccinator feeds off many plants native to those areas. They are also known for laying their eggs near or on the water. They seek out the same habitat type for wintering grounds.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; polar ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; coastal ; brackish water

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: riparian ; estuarine

  • Proffitt, K. 2009. Trumpeter Swan Abundance and Growth Rates in Yellowstone National Park. Journal of Wildlife Management, 73/5: 728-736.
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Comments: Ponds, lakes, and marshes, breeding in areas of reeds, sedges or similar emergent vegetation, primarily on freshwater, occasionally in brackish situations, wintering on open ponds, lakes and sheltered bays and estuaries (AOU 1983). In the intermountain western U.S., winters in areas of geothermal activity, springs, and dam outflows (Spahr et al. 1991). Primarily breeds in freshwater, on edges of large inland waters; typically in emergent marsh vegetation, or on a muskrat house, beaver lodge, or island. The nest is a large mass of plant material. Uses same nesting sites in successive years.

See Pacific Flyway Study Committe (2004) for a summary of nesting, migration, and winter habitat requirements for the Rocky Mountain population.

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Cover Requirements

More info for the terms: cover, shrubs

Tall emergent vegetation provides shelter and cover for trumpeter swans
[10]. Adults may remove vegetation around the nest until the nest is
surrounded by open water. This provides good visibility and protection
from land predators [2]. During winter, trumpeter swans prefer open
sites with few trees or shrubs to obscure their vision while feeding
[23].

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the term: cover

Breeding habitat - Trumpeter swans nest on the margins of interconnected
shallow marshes and lakes, lakes within forest or sagebrush habitat,
and oxbows of rivers [18]. They prefer stable, quiet, shallow waters
where small islands, muskrat houses, or dense emergent vegetation
provide nesting and loafing sites. Nutrient-rich waters, with dense
aquatic plant and invertebrate growth, provide the best habitat [3,23].

Nests are built in water 1 to 3 feet deep [4]. Trumpeter swans build a
platform nest made of emergent vegetation. The nest is often located on
a muskrat house, beaver lodge, or small island [18]. In Alaska,
trumpeter swan nests are built 10 to 600 feet (3-183 m) from shore,
depending upon cover and water depth. Occasionally, a nest is located
on or near the shoreline of a small inlet in a large lake [10].

Winter habitat - Winter habitat must provide extensive beds of aquatic
plants and water that remains ice-free. In the Greater Yellowstone
region, cold temperatures and ice restrict trumpeter swans to sites
where geothermal waters, springs, or outflow from dams maintain ice-free
areas. In winter, trumpeter swans use shallow lakes, streams, and ponds
that do not entirely freeze over during the winter months [18,23].
Pacific Coast trumpeter swans use both esuaries and freshwater habitats,
and feed in pastures and croplands [23]. Good winter habitat also
contains a certain amount of level and open terrain, allowing these large
birds to loaf or fly without restriction of movement or visibility [3].

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie

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Associated Plant Communities

Trumpeter swans are generally found in wetland areas among aquatic and
emergent vegetation. In Montana, they commonly build their nests in
extensive beds of sedges (Carex spp.), bulrushes (Scirpus spp.),
cattails (Typha spp.), and reeds (Juncus spp.). In Alaska, they use
horsetails (Equisetum spp.) and sedges for nesting [4,10]. Plants found
in most trumpeter swan habitats include willow (Salix spp.), alder
(Alnus spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), water milfoil (Myriophyllum
exalbescens), arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), and pondweed
(Potamogeton spp.) [3,10].

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
222 Black cottonwood - willow
223 Sitka spruce
224 Western hemlock
225 Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
226 Coastal true fir - hemlock
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
235 Cottonwood - willow
253 Black spruce - white spruce
254 Black spruce - paper birch

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K020 Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
K021 Southwestern spruce - fir forest
K025 Alder - ash forest
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass

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Depth range based on 97 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
 
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Wyoming-Montana-Idaho breeders nonmigratory; interior breeders in British Columbia, Yukon, Alberta, and Northwest Territories migrate. Arrives in northern nesting areas in early May, departs northern latitudes by late September or early October. Uses traditional migration routes.

Yellowstone population consists of a resident year-round population and a migratory winter population. Migrants that visit Yellowstone in the winter are a combination of swans from the Yellowstone/Greater Yellowstone area and swans from Canada (primarily Grande Prairie, Alberta).

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Trophic Strategy

As cygnets, trumpeter swans' diets are mostly comprised of aquatic invertebrates. At five weeks of age, most cygnets have converted to a nearly herbivorous diet. This diet consists mostly of tubers, roots, stems, leaves and occasionally insects. In Alaska during mating season, the wetland plants commonly known as horsetail (genus Equisetum) and Lyngbye's sedge (Carex lyngbyei) are consumed in great quantities. However, because of the wide distribution of the species there are some variations of their diet such as duck potato (Sagittaria latifolia), water weeds (genus Elodea), pondweeds (genus Potamogeton) and sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) tubers.

Trumpeter swans attain their food by foraging underwater with tails bobbing in the air. They also yank plants out of the damp ground, with most of the plant intact.

Animal Foods: aquatic or marine worms

Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Comments: Adults feed mostly on aquatic vegetation; young first eat aquatic insects and crustaceans but in 5 weeks begin feeding on aquatic plants. Also may graze in fields (McKelvey and Verbeek 1988). Prefers shallow, slow-moving water for feeding.

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Food Habits

Trumpeter swans eat the roots, stems, leaves, and/or seeds of a variety
of aquatic vegetation, and they occasionally eat insects [2].
Initially, young cygnets eat large aquatic insects and snails. Cygnets
feed on the water's surface and often depend on the adults to stir up
the water around them. Within 2 to 3 weeks the cygnets start to eat
aquatic plants [2].

Trumpeter swans feed on the following: the tubers of duck potato and
sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus); the stems and leaves of sago and
other pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), water milfoil (Myriophyllum
verticullatum), muskgrass (Chara spp.), waterweed (Elodea canadensis),
and duckweed (Lemna triscula); the seeds of yellow pond lily (Nuphar
polysepala), water shield (Bransenia schreber), smartweed (Polygonum
spp.), sedges (Carex spp.), and spikerush (Eleocharis spp.); and the
stems and roots of grasses and sedges [2,3,4,17].

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Associations

Trumpeter swans' main role in the ecosystem is linked to their diet. Trumpeter swans eat many insects when they are young. As they grow they switch to roots and aquatic plants, digging around to get them which in many cases allows water to fill the remaining holes supplying a very valuable nutrient to the plants. Cygnus buccinator can also be a host to a small number of parasites including tapeworms (Anoplocephala perfoliata), caecal paramphistomids (Zygocotyle lunata), trematode flukes (Echinostoma revolutum), another type of trematode (Orchipedum tracheicola), filarial worms (a nematode found in the heart) of the species Sarconema eurycerca, and other forms of tapeworms (Hymenolepis).

Ecosystem Impact: soil aeration

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Tapeworms (Anoplocephala perfoliata)
  • Caecal paramphistomids (Zygocotyle lunata)
  • Trematode flukes (Echinostoma revolutum)
  • Trematodes (Orchipedum tracheicola)
  • Filarial worms (Sarconema eurycerca)
  • Tapeworms (Hymenolepis)

  • Cowan, I. 1946. Death of a Trumpeter Swan from Multiple Parasitism. The Auk, 63/2: 248-249.
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Although adults aggressively defend their nests, ground nests are easy targets for land predators. Many predators, such as bears, wolves and coyotes, wolverines, raccoons, and common ravens are known to snatch eggs. Post-hatchlings and adults are prey to fast predators such as coyotes, bobcats, red foxes, and golden eagles. The main predator of adult trumpeter swans is mankind. Humans have hunted more of these swans than anything else.

Trumpeter swans are aggressive towards predators, and at 12 kg with a 2 m wingspan, they can potentially inflict serious damage. Trumpeter swans do exhibit warning behaviors before they attack, including head bobbing and hissing.

Known Predators:

  • Man (Homo sapien sapiens)
  • Bears (Ursus)
  • Wolves (Canis)
  • Coyotes (Canis latrans)
  • Wolverines (Gulo luscus)
  • Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
  • Raccoons (Procyon lotor)
  • Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
  • Ravens (Corvus corax)
  • Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

  • Kraft, F. 1946. The Flying Behemoth is Coming Back. Saturday Evening Post, 219/6: 6.
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Predators

More info for the term: natural

Predation is of little consequence in determining overall trumpeter swan
population levels, but may be an important cause of death to preflight
cygnets [3]. Except for man, trumpeter swans have few natural enemies
after flying age is reached. Coyotes (Canis lutrans), river otters
(Lutra canadensis), minks (Mustela vison), and golden eagles (Aquila
chrysaetos) have been blamed for cygnet deaths in Yellowstone National
Park and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge [20]. The following
species also occur in trumpeter swan habitat and could potentially prey
on trumpeter swans: black bears (Ursus americanus), grizzly bears (U.
arctos), lynx (Lynx canadensis), bald eagles (Haliaetus leucocephalus),
greathorned owls (Bubo virgianus), mountain lions (Felis concolor),
bobcats (Lynx rufus), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), red fox (Vulpes
vulpes), raccoons (Procyon lotor), and gulls (Larus spp.) [20].

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: There are three regional populations (Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Interior) recognized by the USFWS (Mitchell 1994). An unknown number of breeding areas exist within the range of these populations (estimated at between 20 and 50 in all regions). Occurences have been searched for extensively, continent-wide survey was conducted in 1990 (Mitchell 1994).

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Global Abundance

10,000 - 100,000 individuals

Comments: In 2000, the total North American population was about 24,000 birds (USFWS 2003).

The 1995 Canadian subpopulation of the Rocky Mountain population recorded 2,076 swans, while the Tri-state subpopulation (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana) of the Rocky Mountain population counted 441 swans. In September 2001, the U.S. segment of the Rocky Mountain population collectively contained 416 adults, including 362 in the Tri-state Area, 23 in Oregon, and 31 in Nevada. Observers counted 417 swans (white birds and cygnets) in the U.S. Breeding Segment of the Rocky Mountain population of trumpeter swans during fall of 2004, a count identical to that from comparable areas in 2003 (USFWS 2004). Observers counted 4,584 swans (white birds and cygnets) in the Rocky Mountain population of trumpeter swans during February 2004, an increase of 15% from the 3,974 counted in February 2003 and a record-high count for the mid-winter survey (Pacific Flyway Study Committee 2004, USFWS 2004).

In the Yellowstone region, there are basically two trumpeter swan flocks: a resident year-round population and a migratory winter population. The winter population varies from 75-119 swans. In 2000, the resident population included 20 adults and 7 cygnets (National Park Service).

The 1995 Interior Population census counted 927 swans (Subcommittee on the Interior Population of Trumpeter Swans 1997).

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General Ecology

In summer, nonbreeding flocks of 20-100 individuals may occur on large lakes and reservoirs. Defends breeding territory of about 5-10 acres.

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

More info for the term: marsh

No specific information was found in the literature regarding
fire-related effects on trumpeter swan habitat. Fire occuring in wetland
habitats, however, often removes excessive accumulations of fast-growing
hydrophytes, permitting better waterfowl access and growth of more
desirable trumpeter swan foods such as pondweed and duckweed [19,21].

There may be some negetive effects of burning waterfowl habitat.
Large-scale autumn burning may have a detrimental effect upon marshes by
reducing the retention of drifting snow. The ability of marsh vegetion
to catch and hold snow is vital to marsh survival [22].

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Timing of Major Life History Events

More info for the terms: formation, severity

Pair formation - Trumpeter swans most often form pair bonds when they
are 2 or 3 years old, and first nest when they are 4 or 5 years old.
Most pairs remain together year-round and bond for life [2,18,23].

Nesting - In the Copper River area of Alaska, the Greater Yellowstone
area, and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, egg laying normally
begins in late April or early May and is completed about mid-May [4,17].
In interior Alaska, egg laying begins later than in the above areas
[17]. In Alberta, the eggs are layed in mid-May [2].

Clutch size and incubation - Each breeding pair uses only one nest and
the female lays five to six eggs [2,14,17]. If the eggs are destroyed
the pair will probably not renest [2]. The incubation period is 33 to
37 days [3,4,18].

Cygnet development and fledging - Trumpeter swan cygnets grow rapidly
[4]. They are fully feathered in 9 to 10 weeks, but are unable to fly
until 13 to 15 weeks in Alaska and 14 to 17 weeks in Montana [4,17].
Cygnets remain with their parents throughout their first winter. They
separate from their parents the following spring, but siblings may
remain together into their third year. Family bonds are strong;
subadult siblings may rejoin with parents after nesting ends or in
subsequent winters [23].

Molt - Nonbreeding subadults molt first. Most nonbreeders in Alaska
begin their molt in late June or early July. At Red Rock Lakes, the
molt may be completed as early as June [4]. It is rare for both members
of a breeding pair to be flightless at the same time. The male of the
pair usually molts first. Some paired birds may begin to molt as early
as nonbreeders. Many, however, delay a month or longer. Some trumpeter
swans are flightless until early September in Alaska and until October
in Montana. Trumpeter swans are normally flightless for about 30 days
[4].

Migration - The seasonal movements of trumpeter swans in the Greater
Yellowstone region are limited to local flights between breeding habitat
and contiguous wintering areas. No molt migration is known. Breeders
molt in the general vicinity of nesting territories [17].

In Alaska, trumpeter swan populations migrate south in shifts. This
occurs from September until very late in the year, with times and
distances varying depending on severity of the weather. Trumpeter swans
move from interior regions in September, as total freeze-up occurs by
the first week in October. By mid-October, they have usually left
Kenai, located on the coast. On the Copper River Delta, many swans
remain until about mid-November. They arrive at Lonesome Lake, British
Columbia, beginning October 20 through October 25 [17].

Life span - Trumpeter swans may live up to 35 years in captivity but
usually do not live more than 12 years in the wild [2].

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Trumpeter swans produce a variety of sounds, but they are known for their low bugle call. In addition to the bugle call, they also use motions such as head bobbing to alert others of disturbances or in preparation for flight. Trumpeter swans are very social creatures except for in times of mating, when they become quite territorial. Pheromones are also used in mating rituals. The female emits pheromones when she is ready to mate. Breeding pairs perform visual, synchronous displays which likely reinforce the pair-bond. Trumpeter swans call to warn the flock of impending danger. Trumpeter swans perceive their environment through visual, auditory, tactile, and chemical stimuli.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: duets ; pheromones

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Staging and breeding individuals may be active day and night (Henson and Cooper 1994).

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Life Expectancy

Young trumpeter swans often have survival estimates from 40% to 100%, adult swan survival increases to 80% to 100%. The oldest captive trumpeter swan on record was 33 years old. In the wild, the oldest known individual was 24.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
24 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
33 (high) years.

  • Krementz, D., R. Barker, J. Nichols. 1997. Sources of Variation in Waterfowl Survival Rates. The Auk, 114/2: 93-102.
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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 32.5 years (captivity) Observations: While sexual maturity may occur earlier, breeding normally does not occur before age 4. In the wild, these animals normally do not live over 12 years (http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/).
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Reproduction

Trumpeter swans are monogamous and mate for life. During mating season, trumpeter swans reunite with their former mates or begin a process of courtship to secure a mate. Courtship displays consist of pairs simultaneously spreading or raising wings, wing quivering, head bobbing and trumpeting.

Mating System: monogamous

Adults begin mating at 4 to 7 years of age. Mating usually occurs from March to May. Nest-building can take 2 to 5 weeks to complete, and both parents are involved in construction. The nests range from 1.2 to 3.6 m in diameter and are usually surrounded by water. The materials used in nests building include various aquatic vegetation, grasses, and sedges.

After copulation and fertilization, the females lay 4 to 6 eggs. Incubation lasts for 32 to 37 days, done mainly by the female. The young, precocial cygnets spend their first 24 hours in the nest, then begin to swim. They fledge after 91 to 119 days and are independent after one year.

Breeding interval: Trumpeter swans breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Trumpeter swans breed from March to May.

Range eggs per season: 4 to 6.

Range time to hatching: 32 to 37 days.

Range fledging age: 91 to 119 days.

Average time to independence: 1 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 to 7 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 7 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Both parents contribute to nest building which lasts 2 to 5 weeks. The female will perform the majority of incubation. Unlike many birds, trumpeter swans do not have a specialized brood patch and instead will incubate the eggs using their feet. Upon hatching, the young are precocial but still require significant parental care. Both parents care for the cygnets throughout their first year.

Parental Investment: precocial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

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Nesting begins in late April or early May in the intermountain western U.S. Clutch size is 2-9 (usually about 5). Incubation, mainly by female, lasts 33-37 days (Harrison 1978). Hatching occurs in latter half of June in southern Alaska, June in the intermountain Western U.S. Nestlings are precocial but remain with adults until subsequent spring. Fledging occurs at 100-120 days. Young remain with parents through winter; siblings may stay together for a few years, may rejoin parents after the nesting period. First nests at 4-5 years (may form pair bonds earlier). Life-long pair bond. Rarely more than one pair nests on a single body of water.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cygnus buccinator

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNCGCAGAACTGGGACAACCAGGAACTCTCCTTGGTGACGACCAGATCTACAATGTAGTCGTCACCGNTCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATACCCATTATGATCGGGGGGTTTGGTAACTGACTGGTCCCCCTTATAATCGGCGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATGAATAACATAAGCTTTTGACTCCTCCCACCATCATTTCTCCTGCTACTAGCCTCATCCACCGTAGAAGCTGGCGCCGGTACAGGTTGAACCGTCTACCCACCCCTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCTGGAGCTTCAGTAGACCTGGCCATTTTCTCACTTCACTTAGCTGGCATCTCCTCCATCCTTGGAGCCATCAACTTCATTACCACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTCTCACAATACCAAACTCCACTATTCGTCTGATCCGTCCTAATTACCGCCATCCTACTCCTCCTATCACTCCCTGTGCTTGCCGCAGGTATCACAATGCTACTAACCGACCGAAACCTAAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCCGCCGGAGGAGGGGACCCAATCCTGTATCAACACTTGTTCTGATTTTTCGGACATCCAGAAGTATACATCCTAATCCTA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cygnus buccinator

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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