Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator), Arlington Valley, Maricopa County
These Trumpeter Swans were found and photographed by Melanie Herring on 19 December 2015
There are five accepted records for Arizona and two pending reports.
Immature swans represent one of the most challenging
identification problems in our area. Details of bill
shape and pattern can be useful, but are much more
variable and overlapping in young birds than in adults.
Photographs and descriptions already submitted support
the identification of Trumpeter Swan, however additional
photos, video, and especially sound recordings of these
birds would be appreciated.
Very large bodied, long necked swan with a large bill that appears heavy when compared to their head. The head is flat/angular shaped with the bill straight in a slope that resembles a Canvasback ie the forehead slopes evenly with the straight bill. Tundra swans tend to have shorter more concave bills and more rounded heads. Most of the bills appeared black, a few showing some pink/red in the middle, and on one the bill was black based and black tipped with red/pink in the middle which is also consistent with Trumpeter. Tundra swans tend to have
paler bills overall, with less black at the base. The
dark gray coloration of most of these birds is also
consistent with Trumpeter Swan, whereas young Tundra
Swans are a paler, more silvery gray and often more
whitish than these birds by December. Interestingly, the
one bird in this group that shows more whitish overall
coloration is also the bird with a largely pale bill.
The question has been raised whether this could be a
mixed flock with both species present, however field
observations and photographs show the birds to be all of
equal size. Leg color was a mottled beige or pinkish and not black which is indicative of Trumpeter,
as Tundra Swans apparently always have black legs.
19 December 2015, photo by Melanie HerringAll photos are copyrighted© by photographer
Submitted on 30 December 2015