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The elegant trumpeter swan

2021 08 22 naturecentre TswansThe majestic trumpeter swan can have a wingspan up to three meters and weigh between seven and 13 kilograms making these the heaviest, native waterfowl in Ontario. They were near extinction during the 1980s-1990s but with aggressive conservation efforts, this graceful bird has rebounded.

Trumpeter swans bond for life when they are three to four years old. The female lays five to six eggs each year, incubating for approximately 30-32 days. Her large webbed feet sit over the top of the eggs. The male is busy defending the nest against any predators during the incubation period.

We have trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) visit the pond regularly each year at the Nature Centre. They arrive every March and come and go all summer. The last sighting was on the Aug. 11, 2021. We had not seen them since the beginning of June.

We report our sightings by email and online. The links are provided below.

Many swans have been tagged in Southern Ontario with a yellow wing tag that includes a black three number-plus-letter combination unique to each trumpeter. The tag is placed on both wings and the bands are placed on the right leg of the male and the left leg of the female.

Sightings of swans are recorded whether the birds are tagged or untagged. The date is recorded along with the specific location, GPS coordinates are great, the tag numbers, obvious pairs, if there are cygnets (baby swans) and how many. The agencies that track swan sightings also want to know about the behaviour of the swans, whether they are injured, if they are mating, building a nest, incubating or isolating.

Since the beginning of the swan-rescue program, there have been more than 2,200 swans tagged and banded in Ontario. The allowance to tag and band is 120 each year. (The tagging and banding is done only by authorized people.) The database has more than 250,000 sightings from more than 4,500 different locations. Any Ontario-tagged swans sighted in other provinces or in the U.S. are also added to the database.

When you hear that very distinctive "honking" sound in the sky, near a pond or along the shoreline of a lake, you'll know it's a trumpeter swan defending its territory, sounding an alarm or keeping the family together.

Links for sighting reports:

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In the photo: Male Trumpeter on left, female Trumpeter on right. Photo taken at the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre.

Follow the link to watch a short video taken on our game camera two years ago. (The date on the video is incorrect.)

Blog courtesy of June Crinnion. The Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre, founded by June Crinnion and Michael Elmer, is a nature and wellness centre in Ramara, named after Lake Simcoe Living Nature Detective Bob Bowles to honour his role in protecting and caring for the environment. For more information, go to


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