South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Trumpeter Swan

Cygnus buccinator

Length: 60 to 72 inches Wingspan: 6 to 8.5 feet Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Very large all-black bill, white plumage, large size.  Compare to Tundra Swan.

Trumpeter Swan - Cygnus buccinatorThe Trumpeter Swan is the heaviest of all native North American birds.  They were hunted nearly to extinction during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but have recovered somewhat since the 1940s.  They are often quite sensitive to human disturbance, although in recent decades, local populations have become accustomed to a human presence in parks and reservoirs.

Habitat: Favors large shallow water bodies with abundant vegetation, including shallow lakes, ponds, and large rivers.  They will also use saltwater bays in the wintertime.

Diet: Primarily feeds on aquatic plants.  They may also feed on waste grain and terrestrial grasses, especially in the winter when other food sources aren't available.  Only very young cygnets eat insects and crustaceans.

Behavior: Forages by swimming, taking food items from the water's surface, water's edge, or by tipping and extending the head down to grab food from underwater.  They will also forage on land.

Nesting: April through July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Rich, resonating honking.

Migration: Many populations in the lower 48 states are non-migratory.  Those in Canada and Alaska, however, do move southward as waters begin to freeze.

Similar Species: Tundra Swan, Mute Swan

Conservation Status: Trumpeter Swans once nested over much of North America, but were nearly wiped out in the Lower 48 by 1940.  Numbers have rebounded locally in many locations, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, and efforts are underway to reintroduce the species into many parts of their historic range.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Trumpeter Swan

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology  - Trumpeter Swan

3) eNature.com: Trumpeter Swan

4) Whatbird.com: Trumpeter Swan

Photo Information: August 26th, 2004 -- Yellowstone National Park, between Madison Junction and West Yellowstone -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Trumpeter Swan photos.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Trumpeter Swan - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident and common winter resident in Bennett County.  Casual to rare elsewhere in the state.