Flight Profiles and Take Off

Trumpeter Swans may be the last birds in a mixed flock to take off. They may stay up to one or more minutes longer than the Tundra Swans. This happens when Trumpeter and Tundra Swans occur together but are not entirely intermingled (Trumpeters remain at one end of the flock as a group). This is a subtle characteristic for separating Trumpeters from Tundras and must be used in conjunction with other identification methods.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swans, following the takeoff run and just as they become airborne, will pull their necks into a shallow "S" curve. This is seen only for a very brief time during their first wing beats to stay airborne.

Trumpeter Swan
Photograph by Cy Rob

Trumpeter Swan
Photograph by Morrie Carter

Tundra Swan

Tundra Swans hold their necks straight the entire time of the takeoff run and initial flight. This characteristic applies to both land and water takeoffs.

Tundra Swan
Photograph by Gerald Plowman

Canada Geese

Canada Geese have a black neck and head with a white cheek patch; dark body in varying shades of graybrown with the rear 1/3 being white. The tail is black. They have a short neck, and a fl ight pattern similar to Snow Geese.

Note the differences in size and color between swans and Snow Geese. Swans are large all-white (adult) or gray (juvenile) birds with a wing span of 6 to 8 feet. Snow Geese of all ages have black wing tips and a wing span of about 3 feet.

Trumpeter Swan

IMPORTANT: Some Trumpeter Swans are marked with identifying neck bands. Please note the collar color and number or letters as well as date and location.