There are three species of swans in North America. The Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) and Tundra Swan (C. columbianus) are indigenous, while the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a Eurasian species that has been introduced and now breeds in the wild in some areas. All three are very large all-white birds. The male swan is called the Cob. He typically weighs more and looks larger than the female (the Pen). Young-of- the-year swans are called Cygnets.
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Mute Swans are easily distinguished by the bright orange bill and distinctive knob on the forehead. Trumpeters and Tundras are similar looking species that are more difficult to identify. Reports from wildlife observers will help biologists monitor the recovery of Trumpeter Swans. Positive identification is essential, as Trumpeters often mix with flocks of the relatively common Tundra Swan throughout their migration and winter range.
Distinguishing Trumpeters from Tundras is not easy, but it is possible by paying close attention to a few distinctive characteristics.