• Trumpeter Swan

    Common NameTrumpeter Swan
    Scientific NameCygnus buccinator
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation04/01/2017
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameJim Mead
    Mailing Address798 Metcalf Drive
    Williston, Vermont 05495
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed04/02/2017
    Latitude of Observation44º13'14.2"N
    Longitude of Observation73º18'50.5"W
    Place NameJim Mead
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day04:36 PM
    Length of Time Observed15 minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)500'
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)20'
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Completely cloudy, 38ºF, wind was calm to no wind.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Kowa TSN-884 Promiser 20-60 power lens.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    I saw this same bird (explained later in the report)in Brandon on 3/9/17, which was the first time I ever saw a Trumpeter Swan.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    I found this Swan in the middle of Otter Creek while on Fort Cassin Road. There were some Canada Geese, Double-crested Cormorants, and a few Hooded Mergansers in the Creek as well. Ice was on both sides of the creek. There is a section of trees separating Otter Creek from Field's Bay on one side and riparian woods on the other side of the creek. The creek was flowing and had no ice.

    Behaviors Observed

    It saw me when I pulled over and it paddled toward the mouth of the creek then turned around and came back. I then got out out of my vehicle and it didn't move away and at one point it submerged its' head and neck completely for about 20 seconds, presumably feeding. After 10 minutes or so it then paddled all the way to the mouth of Otter Creek took a left and went into Field's Bay. I did not see it again until it lifted up and flew out of Field's Bay heading south.

    Description of Vocalizations

    I heard it honk 5 times while it was in Field's Bay and it happened just before it took off. Each honk was a single syllable sound and I knew immediately that I had never heard that sound before. It was loud and it sort of seemed like it was announcing that it was about to do something and in this case it took off within 30 seconds of the first honk. It wasn't as loud or harsh sounding as a Canada Goose honk but it was crisp and not hoarse sounding.

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    I saw the bird paddling around in Otter Creek with its' very long neck straight up and its' head was looking around omnidirectionally. It was not joined by other birds and at one point it submerged its' entire head and neck to presumably feed (as mentioned previously). I also saw it fly away from Field's Bay.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Very large Swan with an all white body. The only other color on the bird was its' black bill, eyes, lores, legs and feet.


    Triangular shaped head with the bottom of the bill straight across (when parallel with the water) and the top of the bill sloping at an approx. 30º angle and in line with the forehead. The back of the head was nicely rounded flowing into a long and straight nape and long neck.The cheeks terminated against the side of the bill in a sort of straight line from the eye to the bottom base of the bill and were white like the throat and nape. The eyes were black and there was a noticeable smaller black area around the left eye as compared to the black area surrounding the right eye. This distinction was compared to the Trumpeter Swan that I saw & took photos of in Brandon, VT on 3/9/17. I concluded that this bird was the same bird as the one that I saw in Brandon based on my photos of each sighting, showing that same distinction while looking at the black areas around the eyes.

    Feet & Bill

    I only saw the feet and legs briefly while in flight and they were black. The bill was all black with no yellow coloration at all in the all black lores. The lores on the right side were almost as wide as the eye. The lores on the left side looked wider than the black area around that eye.

    Upper Back

    The upper back was slightly rounded and all white.

    Lower Back & Rump

    The lower back angled down toward the toilet an apprx. 40º angle. I only saw the rump briefly while in flight and it was white.


    Very long wings that tapered slightly but did not come to a point at their tips. The leading edge was straight across and the trailing edge was also straight across until it reached the tip, where it was rounded.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    The breast, belly, flanks and under tail coverts were all white.


    The tail was white above and below, short and rounded at the tip.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    I eliminated Mute Swan Because they show an orange colored bill. I mostly had to compare this Swan to Tundra Swan because they are very similar. The Tundra Swan shows a rounded border where the base of the bill meets the forehead and they bird showed a v-shaped border in that same area. Also, most of the time but not always the Tundra Swan will show some yellow coloration in the lores but this bird had no yellow at all. The lores on this bird were also almost as wide as the eye. A Tundra Swan would show a sort of pinched area between the eye and the lores. Finally, the line separating the side of the face and the side of the bill was relatively straight on this bird. A Tundra Swan would show a noticeable curve near the gape.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Adult bird based on the all white coloration of this bird.

    This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory

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