Stop Over

In the spring and the fall a large amount of Tundra Swan’s stop by to use Lac Des Arc as a feeding station. This is the most widespread and common of the swans normally found in North America. As in past years, they arrive long before the ice is out and hang out on the Bow River until Lac Des Arc melts off, by mid May they have all continued their journey north.

Photo by J.Borno

The Tundra Swan, which does not breed in Alberta are just passing through to their breeding grounds in the Canadian North, in the tundra areas of Hudson’s Bay west to Alaska. They return to Lac Des Arc in the fall enroute to their wintering grounds in California of the United States.

Photo by J.Borno

The voice of the Tundra Swan is soft and melodious and their former name “whistling swan” referred to the sound made by the slow, powerful beating of the wings in flight, and not to the voice of the bird.

Photo by J.Borno

As flocks pass overhead, the leader often utters a high note like “who-who-who,” which is immediately repeated by flock after flock, producing a high-pitched whistling sound. The call is pitched lower than a whistle and more closely resembles a blowing or tearing sound and can be heard for up to six kilometres.

Photo by J.Borno

These animals fly some 3,725 miles (6,000 kilometers) round-trip between their distant habitats, and make the daunting journey twice each year. Length 36 inches and a wing span of 85 inches.

Photo by J.Borno

During the breeding season the Tundra Swan sleeps almost entirely on land, but in the winter it sleeps more often on water.

Swan nests on the tundra are vulnerable to a host of predators, such as foxes, weasels, jaegers, and gulls. If the parents are present, they are able to defend the nest and nestlings from these threats.

Photo by J.Borno

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.

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