[TN-Bird] Trumpeter Swan photos

  • From: "Michael & Rebecca Todd" <birder1@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 20:18:38 -0600

Lake Graham, Madison Co
I only worked half the day today, so I was finally able to get over to Lake 
Graham to check on the Swan that Mark reported recently. To my relief I saw it 
swimming as soon as the Lake came into view. I spent about an hour and a half 
with the bird, at the end it was only probably 15-20 yards offshore from where 
I was. 

The dusky color overall, and big black bill made me think Trumpeter when I 
first started looking at the bird. Swans can be very tough ID's, and a 
combination of factors have to be taken into account. The feathering at the 
bill was closer to what Sibley shows for Tundra, so I can see how Ken was 
leaning that way. This feature in particular to me isn't especially reliable. A 
search of Trumpeter Swan photos will turn up birds with that nice even line 
that they are 'supposed' to have, but also many with a curve, ala Tundra. 

This bird also had the broad patch of skin between the eye and bill, so that 
the eye pretty much blends into the face, and doesn't stand out as on Tundra; a 
very good indicator. The major body axis, very well depicted by Jeff in his 
photos this winter, was great for Trumpeter with the tail riding very low above 
the water. The bill and head had that nice flat slope. The bill did have a 
small area of very dull-flesh color in the center, which I looked for but 
couldn't see, but which did show up in photos. The feathering at the forehead 
came to a sharp point, but some young Tundra's are slow to develop the rounded 
border of that species, so not sure how important that was in this case. 

I have placed a number of shots of this bird in my Winter 2009-2010 gallery. 
Light wasn't good today at all, but the bird was close enough most of the time 
that it didn't matter. I think the last shot in the series is probably the 
best, when it was closest just before I left. The first new image starts here: 

Good Birding!!

Mike Todd
McKenzie, TN

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  • » [TN-Bird] Trumpeter Swan photos - Michael & Rebecca Todd