Trumpeter Swans, 15 January 2006, Glenn County, California
Trumpeter Swans
Cygnus buccinator
Glenn County, CA
15 January 2006

On the afternoon of 15 January 2006, Cindy and I saw 8 Trumpeter Swans in Glenn County. The 2 adults and 6 youngsters were in a flooded field on the Bayliss-Blue Gum Road (also known as Road 39). This road is north of the town of Willows between Highway 99W and Highway 45. The field is 0.8 miles east of Highway 99W, or 8.8 miles west of Highway 45.

When we first saw them, the 8 Trumpeter Swans were alone in a flooded field. We noted that they were silent, they had straight culmens, all-black bills (except for the slash of pink at the gape), sloping foreheads and non-rounded heads, the feathering ended in a V- shape above the bill, the black bill connected broadly with the black eye, and the backs of the birds were evenly rounded. All 8 birds flew up and circled around together (one of them called during take-off, sounding lower-pitched and more like a honk than Tundra Swans), then landed in an adjacent flooded field with a few hundred Tundra Swans. We drove east to this field and after a few minutes were able to relocate the Trumpeters at the back of the pack.

The next morning, the eight birds were back in their own pond away from the Tundra flock. Soon, a single Tundra Swan flew in and landed next to the Trumpeters. It was an obviously smaller bird with a concave culmen and yellow patch on the bill, making for a nice comparison. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough light to get a good picture.

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