posted October 27th, 2009; last edited April 27th, 2012 –– David Sibley

Trumpeter Swan   Cygnus buccinator

Distinguishing Trumpeter and Tundra Swans

“The separation of Trumpeter and Tundra Swans has been a perennial challenge…. I think it’s much more useful to focus on the front and top views rather than profile views. In these views the Trumpeter’s eye is broadly connected to the black bill, whereas the Tundra’s eye appears nearly separate from the bill.”

2 comments to Trumpeter Swan

  • Will Risser

    David, with Jan’s and my recent move to Oregon, we have been grappling with separating trumpeter and tundra swans. We believe that a quick way to separate the two if they are standing and are together is the width of the legs. Trumpeters have noticeably thicker legs (tarsi). Having seen this when the two are together, we suspect that we can use this field mark on birds that are not in a mixed flock, but we have not had a chance to try this yet. Will

    • Thanks Will – very interesting. I wonder if my impression of shorter legs on Trumpeter was partly the result of the legs being thicker. I look forward to hearing more whenever you have a chance to test it.

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