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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From the tundra

These are "for the record" photographs.  David and Mike told me they spotted these birds from Doran Beach yesterday, and Dea called to let me know they were still around today.  Because they're rare winter visitors to this area, it seemed worth posting a couple of images.

Two Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) in Bodega Harbor, 22 January 2013

Tundra Swans (formerly known as Whistling Swans) are the smallest of the three swans in North America.  You may be more familiar with the introduced Mute Swan that has a mostly orange bill.  Tundra Swans, and the larger Trumpeter Swans, have mostly black bills. 

I wish I had better images, but they were pretty far away and I didn't have time to try to get a little closer.  These pictures were taken from Doran Beach (that's Whaleship Road in the background across Bodega Harbor).

As the name suggests, Tundra Swans nest near northern tundra lakes and ponds, especially near coastal river deltas.  They also winter in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, but along the coast Sonoma County is at the southern edge of their wintering range.  Most Tundra Swan sightings in this area occur between November and February.

P.S.  Here's your swan trivia for the day: Do you know what an adult male swan is called?  And an adult female?  (Answer below.)

An adult male swan is known as a cob, and an adult female is known as a pen.


Anonymous said...

Hey Jackie,

Chris here, posting from Oz. I hope you're doing well. Nice entry! I saw some swans in winter in Bodega Bay a couple of years ago, but was told I might have been hallucinating by a skeptical person. (Well, maybe not hallucinating, but mistaken). Nice to know that reality is as it appears sometimes.

Claudia said...

I didn't actually tell him that he was hallucinating, but I did question him quite closely.

Anonymous said...

Up here in Salmon Creek, whenever we see anything unusual natural history-wise, we always look to your blogsite (NHBH) first. Evidently (guessing) the pair of Tundra Swans from Bodega Bay overnighted in Salmon Creek’s estuary near the mouth last night. We saw them late afternoon from the house, but the rain discouraged me from hiking down to get a better look. Again this morning, we could see they were still floating around in the lagoon; some Canada Geese were nearby. So, about 8:30 a.m. we walked down to get a closer view, but before we could see them in the water they took flight. We heard their distinctive whistling song as they flew overhead. We last saw them flying north.

Skip and Vikki Hand