Both Tundra Swans

Swans of two feathers flock to Kootenay

Last Friday morning, November 2, I saw two swans on the lake at Burton but they were too far away from me to identify.

Last Friday morning, (November 2), I saw two swans on the lake at Burton. They were too far away from me to identify. The following day, Ken Cross drove down to look and found 13 of them! He was able to get close enough for pictures and identification – they were Tundra Swans.

There are two species of swans in B.C.: Tundra Swan and Trumpeter Swan and neither are very common in our valley. In the 1980s and early 90s I saw Tundra Swan more often than Trumpeter, but this pattern has reversed in the last 10 or 15 years. Last week’s Tundras are only the second ones I’ve seen since 2000. The two are very similar in appearance and sometimes cannot be distinguished. Most Tundra Swans have a yellowish spot near the base of the beak, and most Trumpeters do not. At close range this is quite visible, but is unfortunately not 100 per cent reliable for separating the two. The shape of the head can be used to separate the two, even at a distance, but the difference is subtle, and some practice is necessary.

Swans feed largely on aquatic vegetation which they reach by tipping up and stretching down with their long necks. Due to the ever-changing water levels on Arrow Lake, very little such vegetation exists here. With so little for them to eat, it’s not surprising that migrants such as these never stay long when they do visit here. In some parts of southern B.C., quite a number of swans stay all winter. A few hundred regularly winter along the Thompson River near Kamloops. Smaller numbers use the Slocan River for at least part of the winter.

In the Kootenays, good numbers of migrating swans are regularly seen around Creston. The valley there has extensive wetlands that provide ample feeding opportunities for many species of waterfowl. Many hundreds of swans, mostly Tundras, can be observed during February and March, and then again in October and November.

Tundra Swans breed along the Arctic coast from western Alaska to the eastern Canadian Arctic.  Trumpeters have a much more restricted breeding range that includes scattered locations in B.C., Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska.  In the 1930s Trumpeter Swan numbers were extremely low and it was feared that their extinction was near. Concerted conservation efforts have prevented that from happening and their numbers today are much improved.


Just Posted

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

B.C. parents leery of HPV cervical cancer vaccine

Provincial registration uptake among lowest in Canada

Municipal spending outpaces population growth 4-fold in B.C.: report

Canadian Federation of Independent Business has released its annual operational spending report

Winlaw preemie survives smoky birth

GoFundMe Campaign started for West Kootenay family with preemie baby.

Youth on the Loose: Centre takes trip to Whatshan Lake

The trip was organized by the Nakusp and Area Youth Network

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read