|Conservation status||Trumpeter Swans once nested over most of North America, but disappeared rapidly as civilization advanced westward; by the 1930s, fewer than 100 remained south of Canada. With protection from hunting and disturbance, populations have rebounded in parts of the northwest. More recent efforts have focused on reintroducing the species to areas thought to be part of the former breeding range, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Lakes, ponds, large rivers; in winter, also bays. Favors large but shallow freshwater ponds, or wide, slow-flowing rivers, with lots of vegetation. Most of current range is in forested regions, but at one time was also common on northern prairies.|
Takes food from underwater, or on or above water's surface; sometimes on land, especially in winter. To forage in deeper water, swans upend with tail up and neck extending straight down, finding food by touch with bill.
4-6, up to 9. Whitish, becoming nest-stained. Female does most of incubating but male often does some; eggs hatch in 32-37 days. Young: can swim when less than 1 day old. Both adults tend young, leading them to feeding sites. Young are not fully capable of flight until 3-4 months after hatching.
can swim when less than 1 day old. Both adults tend young, leading them to feeding sites. Young are not fully capable of flight until 3-4 months after hatching.
Mostly plant material. Adults eat mainly stems, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants, including pondweed, sedges, rushes, arrowleaf, wild celery, bulrush, burreed, and many others. May eat terrestrial grasses and waste crops in winter. Young eat many insects and other small invertebrates, mainly during first 2 weeks after hatching.
Usually forms pairs at age 2-4 years, but nests for first time at age 4-7 years. Often mates for life. Nest site is surrounded by water, as on small island, beaver or muskrat house, floating platform. Nest (built by both sexes, although female may do most of work) is a low mound of plant material, several feet in diameter, with a depressed bowl in the center. Same nest may be used in subsequent years.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Most southern populations are non-migratory. Northern Trumpeters move south in late fall as waters begin to freeze. Most migration is by day, flocks often in V-formation, flying low. Spring migration begins early, birds often reaching nesting territory before waters are free of ice.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA bugling ko-hoh, lower-pitched than Tundra Swan's call.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Trumpeter Swan
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Trumpeter Swan
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.