What is Swan Sanctuary
Two swan species are indigenous to North America. They are the Trumpeter swan and the Tundra swan.
The Trumpeter Swan is the largest and most distinctive swan. The Trumpeter is recognized by its loud, trumpeting call and straight, black bill. It nearly disappeared due to over hunting in the early 1900's, but a small group was recovered in Alaska and also around the Yellowstone area where they had escaped to safety. It is making a slow recovery thanks to organizations like The Trumpeter Swan Society that are dedicated to its re-introduction. Migration routes are passed on by parents to their offspring and although ultra-light experiments sought to re-establish these routes, they were unsuccessful. It is believed that some Trumpeters are now learning new migration routes from the Tundra Swans, with which they occasionally hybridize in the wild.
The Tundra Swan was formerly known as the whistling swan. It makes its annual migration of nearly 2800 miles, from its breeding grounds in Alaska to its wintering grounds along the eastern and western seaboards. It is smaller than the Trumpeter Swan by about a third. It also has a black bill, but with a slight upward tilt and a small patch of yellow (called the lore) just below the eye. This marking can be highly individualized in size and shape; and can occasionally be missing altogether. This swan's vocalization is of a much higher pitch, combined with stretching the neck forward and up.
The Mute Swan is the swan most often seen in pictures and art and gracing public parks. It is recognized by the distinct black knob above a red-orange bill. It often holds its wings up and spread in a fan position over its back. The mother carries the cygnets (baby swans) on its back in this fashion. This posture is also used to show aggression. Although not actually mute, this swan has a much quieter call that sounds like a nasal snort. The Mute Swan is not indigenous to North America and has been classified as an invasive species. Owners of Mute Swans should not allow them to breed and they should be pinioned and confined in a fenced area to prevent their escape into the wild.
The remaining swan species can be found in other parts of the world and are generally seen only in zoos.
The Whooper Swan is the Eurasian version of our Trumpeter Swan. It is similar in size, but a large portion of its bill is yellow. Its call is loud and joyful and of a higher pitch than the Trumpeter Swan.
The Bewick Swan is a smaller version of the Whooper Swan, and by comparison, more similar to the North American Tundra Swan.
The Black Swan gives allegiance to Australia, though it is often kept by private owners and parks for its grace and beauty. They have a melodic song, protruding knob, a bright red bill with a white ring near its base, and white feathers on the underside of their black wings.
The most beautiful and significant characteristic of the Black-necked Swan is its flute-like song. Native to New Zealand, it is considerably smaller than the North American and the Eurasian species, boasting a bulbous red knob, jet black neck, and white body and feathers. Neither the Black Swan nor the Black-Necked Swan is migratory.
Two other species are sometimes classified as swans, but absolute agreement has not been reached. The Coscoroba Swan is native to South America. The Snow Goose has one of the largest ranges, occurring mostly north of, and into the United States.
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