February 24, 2009

It's a Tundra!

With the excitement of the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival behind me, it's hard to make my blog posts nearly as exciting as they were, since there just aren't as many neat birds to talk about. Even though I don't have as many birds to talk about there are still some things that may be of interest to you, like the fact that I got my lifer Tundra Swan today.

There was a secondhand report that a group of twenty swans had been seen at Blue Lake, about forty minutes from where I live. The report was verified by a well known birdwatcher. The flock found by the birdwatcher was much less than twenty, with only nine individuals at the lake. Among these nine was a lone Tundra Swan and the rest were Trumpeters. I had never seen a Tundra Swan before and they are hard to find anywhere in our area, so I decided to try to see the bird at Blue Lake.

When I went there today all nine swans were still present, and in with them was the Tundra Swan. I managed to get a distant photo of it as it swan around with the other swans. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get the small yellow spot on the lores to show. Of course this didn't come as any surprise to me because of the fact that the bird was on the other side of the lake. Although the yellow lores are not evident, the overall smaller size than the nearby Trumpeter Swans and the bill shape gives away the identity. I sat there and watched as they swam around the lake together. They took off for a while, probably to get food, but came back soon after. The Tundra Swan, besides being a beautiful bird was my 304th life bird.
The weather has been fair the past couple days which has made it possible for some ducks and geese to inch their way north a bit. A number of other birds were on the lake along with the swans. I found ten other species of waterfowl there with Wood Duck and Redhead being my personal favorites. A lone American Coot was also on the lake, which kind of surprised me. With all these birds migrating it looks like this colder than average winter is finally making its way out of here!


Anonymous said...

You got a great shot showing the key identification feature - congratulations on your lifer! We have a super section on swan identification on our website at and we've just started a blog Check us out - we are the only non-profit conservation group focused on North America's swans and there are many exciting details to share as swan populations expand. Again, congratulations!
Peg Abbott, The Trumpeter Swan Society

Anonymous said...

Great photos Tucker, glad you and your father enjoyed it up here in nothern Minnesota. Thanks to Lynne for pointing your wonderful blog.

Kelly said...

...great post! We have lots of Mute Swans in Cincy, but Tundras are not as numerous. We do have a few reports of them here, and hopefully I'll be able to find one soon!

Sophia Wiedmann said...

You seem to be a dedicated birder- are you thinking about coming to the Platte River in Nebraska to see the Sandhill Cranes? I live nearby so I get many chances to see them in the fields and I saw them a few times at dawn on the sandbars. It was an impressive sight to see them silhouetted against the sunrise.

Tucker L said...

Sophia, I have been out to Kearney, NE to look for cranes twice. My first trip was in late March-early April 2007 and I got to see plenty of Sandhill Cranes as well as a Whooping Crane! My second trip was a short one to find a Common Crane down there last year. No luck with that one. I may go again this year but I don't have any plans made as of yet.