The Whistling Swan is similar to the larger Trumpeter Swan and has a white plumage, a black beak with a salmon-pink streak along the mouth line and variable amounts of yellow at the base of the beak which may be lacking, dark-brown eyes, and the legs and feet are black. The female (Pen) is similar to the male (Cob) but is usually slightly smaller. They are also known as Tundra Swans.
Size: – Typical Adult is 45-59 inches.
Food: – Mainly aquatic plants, leaves, roots stems, but will also graze on grasses, and grain. They will also eat animal matter such as aquatic insects, larvae, and freshwater molluscs.
Habitat: – Lakes, marshes, estuaries in the Arctic tundra region of coastal Alaska, and northern Canada. Winters in western Alaska down the Pacific coast to mid-California, north-west Canada, and down Atlantic coast from Maryland to South Carolina, also in the Great Lakes.
Breeding Season: – Mid-May. True to its name, the Tundra Swan breeds on the high tundra across the top of North America. It winters in large flocks along both coasts, and is frequently encountered during its migration across the continent.
Eggs: – 5 to 6 (creamy white color).
Notes: – This Swan and the Bewick’s Swan are known as Tundra Swans. They are called Whistling Swans not because of their call but because of a high-pitched sound made by their wings whilst in flight. The tundra swan’s call is high-pitched and reminiscent of snow geese, while this swan’s call is more vociferous and has been likened to the sound of a French horn.
During the breeding season the Tundra Swan sleeps almost entirely on land, but in the winter it sleeps more often on water. The Tundra Swan stays in flocks except when on a breeding territory. Although most swans spread out to breed, a large proportion of the population on the breeding grounds still can be found in flocks. These swans are not breeding, and may be young birds that have not yet bred, adult pairs whose breeding attempts failed, or adults that bred in the past but for some reason do not in that year.
Tundra swans winter mainly along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America, from southern British Columbia to California and from New Jersey to South Carolina. In the United States, primary wintering areas include the Atlantic coast from northern South Carolina to southern New Jersey, the Great Salt Lake vicinity and central and northern California.