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

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

East Kootenay mine deaths prompt safety initiatives

Teck produces educational video, introduces new procedures after contractor drowns at Fording River

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Most Read