These are large birds, and it is impressive to see their immense, cream-colored bodies in flight. They are the largest waterfowl seen in the Fraser River Delta, with a wingspan of six feet and eight inches (2 meters) and a length of five feet (1.5 meters) from tip to tail. They weigh twenty three pounds—about the same as a cocker spaniel.
They are skilled flyers, capable of flying at 80km/h (50mph), and at altitudes of 8,200 meters (27,000 feet). They breed in Alaska and spend their winters on the coast of British Columbia and Washington.
The Trumpeter Swan population was very low in the 1930’s due to a number of factors including hunting and habitat change, and remained on the brink for many years. Since the 1960’s the population has increased steadily and currently they are not considered threatened.
Photo by Markus Merkens
These swans have adapted to feeding on agricultural land during the winter, eating unharvested root crops and Winter Cover Crops. Farmers benefit when the swans eat the left-over root vegetables, as the roots can harbour disease and may grow as unwanted ‘volunteers’ the subsequent growing season.