Tundra Swan

Cygnus columbianus

The Tundra swan is also known as the Whistling swan due to the tone that is produced by their wings during flight.

Characteristics: Completely white plumage, the bill is black with a yellow spot at the base. Tundra swans have black legs and feet. The male and female are identical, however, the female tends to be a bit smaller. Males weight averages 16 lbs. and females average 14 lbs. The average wingspan is 5.5 feet.

Lifespan: Wild birds can live up to 20 years while captive swans can live into their 30’s.

Habitat: Salt water bays, estuaries, and marshy lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams.

Range: The Tundra swan breeds in the arctic regions of northern Canada and Alaska. In North America, there is an eastern and western population. These populations migrate over 3,000 each season. The eastern population winters from Chesapeake Bay to North Carolina and the western flock winters along the Pacific Coast.

Diet: Tundra swans forage in shallow water. They consume tubers and roots of aquatic plants, mollusks, and grains.

Behavior: Tundra swans are monogamous and typically mate for life. During nesting season, each pair will select a territory (3/4 sq. miles) and defend it fiercely. They winter on the water and sleep afloat.

Keeper Notes: Snowflake hatched in 2004. She was brought to a wildlife rehabilitator due to a permanent wing injury. Snowflake was an education animal, visiting children at schools and libraries. Eventually, the rehabilitator needed to place herelsewhere. In 2004, Snowflake was donated to the zoo where she now lives in the deer yard. Snowflake is often seen socializing with the Canada goose.

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