[Tweeters] Trumpeter Swan color rareity

Martha Jordan mj.cygnus at gmail.com
Sun Jan 10 22:34:43 PST 2021

I was out to pick up a dead Trumpeter Swan (lead poisoning) near Carnation,
WA last week. When I examined it I noted something very different about
this one. The bird was all white, quite white with no iron staining and the
legs and feet were the color of a juvenile Trumpeter. Very much a mix of
black with significant yellow/orange color. And the sole of the foot,
unlike juvenile TRUS, was all black. I checked the swan for gray feathers
any where, none were found, not even a speck of one on the neck, head,
body, tail, just all a very white feathering. Then it came to me, this is
is a leucistic Trumpeter, meaning that genetically it hatches white, never
goes through a gray phase. The pure leucistic Trumpeters typically have
school bus yellow legs/feet, sometimes really red and even pink. They have
also found the leg/feet color such as the bird I collected. This is
uncommon to rare in the Yellowstone and up into the Red Rocks Lake area
where Trumpeters occur.
This is a rare find in the Pacific Coast Population of Trumpeters and
the first one I have encountered from an unknown origin. The one I did find
a few years ago was collared and hailed from an eastern Oregon release
program. Unless I had the bird in hand I never would have known it was
leucistic. It is common for 2nd and even 3rd year swans to have salt and
pepper on their heads and necks but often hard or nearly impossible to see
in the field.
The other interesting thing I noted is that the white feathers seem
whiter, brighter than normal colored swans. My colleague says this is
likely true of many leucistic birds. Also, there was no iron staining on
this bird anywhere. If you want to read more about this you can find an
article on this rare variant at https://nwswans.org/swan-info/ look for
article to download.

Martha Jordan
Everett, WA
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