[Tweeters] Reporting back on the swan ID

Jane Hadley hadleyj1725 at gmail.com
Tue May 2 12:58:27 PDT 2017

On 4/30/2017, I asked Tweetersville to help me identify a lone swan my
husband and I saw on a bank of the Soees River southwest of Neah Bay on
April 28.

You can see the pictures at:


Now I'm reporting back on what I heard.

I had 19 responses, 9 of whom said it's a Trumpeter Swan, 8 of whom said
it's a Tundra Swan, and 2 of whom said it cannot be determined by the
pictures and, therefore, is Swan sp.

However, among those responding was Martha Jordan, the state's leading
swan authority. Here is what Martha had to say:

"This is a trumpeter swan. I am aware of it through WDFW and another
person who works out there for the Makah tribe. It is a juvenile and
likely is a stragler or is not feeling well. It is being monitored. The
decision is to let nature take its course until it is determined if
illness or just being a late migrating juvenile is what is happening.
Each spring there are reports of late swans like this. Most are
juveniles, some are young, nonbreeders. I think they just are taking
their time to move north."

Martha also mentioned some of the ID keys on the pictures: "Legs are not
all black--TRUS. Bill shape, V on forehead are all TRUS."

Lest anybody feel bad about being confused on this ID, here is another
thing Martha said:
"While some folks think it is easier for the two species
(Tundra/Trumpeter) ID, it is often not as this proves here."

You can see swan identification information Martha wrote for The
Trumpter Swan Society, where she was a board member for more than two
decades, at:


You can read Martha's bio here: http://nwswans.org/who-we-are/

Finally, some responding gave reasons for their identifications, and
here they are:


-Wedge shaped bill, curvy neck posture

-Too much slope to the bill for Tundra. Trumpeter is common in western
Clallam Co. Tundra is not...I don't see the typical yellow spot in the
lore. Not all Tundras have it.

-Flat head, not rounded, long straight bill, no yellow mark at base of
bill, often eye is separated by bill in Tundra.

-The red coloring is odd, but if you disregard it, the bill length and
shape are way more Trumpeter than Tundra.


-Eyes seem to be distinct from bill. If you look at the swan's head
straight on, the black will form a u from one eye to the other. In
trumpeter swans it will form a v because the eye won't appear as
separated from the bill and the black to the eye will usually be thicker.

-It seems more like a Tundra. For one thing they migrate later and all
the Trumpeters around here (Olympic Peninsula) are gone from their usual
places. The curve top of the beak is more like a Tundra.

-"The black facial skin narrows to a point before touching the eye,
leaving eye more isolated than on Trumpeter Swan"... from Stokes Field
Guide to Birds

-Yikes. Swans are tough. I'm saying Tundra because the connection of the
bill to the eye is narrow, the bill looks a bit more concave than I'd
expect for a Trumpeter. The white of the front of the cheek appears
rounded, more like I'd expect for a Tundra Swan. That said, I could
easily be convinced it's a Trumpeter.

-Eye is not part of bill

-Eye slightly pinched off. Facial feathers vertical

Jane Hadley
Seattle, WA

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