Large, graceful, white . . . three words that describe me perfectly. I’m Sondra Swan, largest member of the water- fowl family. Trumpeters are the heaviest flying birds in North America weighing up to thirty-five pounds. We stay in warm, southern climates in the winter, but most of us return to Alaska in the spring to raise our young. Nesting starts as early as spring thaw allows due to the long developmental time our cygnets need. We often use the same nest each year, but it may take a month or so to repair or replace the huge structure made of aquatic plants. I spend a month incubating my six-to-nine, five-inch-long eggs. I warm these with my webbed feet rather than covering the eggs with my stomach like most birds. Once hatched, it takes up to four months for my gray cygnets to be strong enough to fly.
SIZE: Length: 4.6 - 6 feet. Weight: 26 - 35 pounds. Wingspan: 6.6 - 8 feet.
COLOR: Body: all white; legs/feet, black. Head: white but often stained rusty color from iron in water; bill up onto face around eyes, black; mouth, pink-to-red “grin.” Immature: mottled dusky-gray; bill, dark and light, black at base.
FOOD: Omnivorous. Summer: mainly plant material, including stems, leaves, roots of pond weeds, sedges, rushes, wild celery; also, insects. Fall/winter/ spring: upland grasses; also, worms, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, small fish.
VOICE: Bugling ko-hoh, like French horn.
OLDEST: 26 years 2 months.