Swans in California

There are many identifications in California of “Tundra Swans”. Most of those identifications do not show the yellow dot towards the end of the birds beak, towards the eye. I’m skeptical these are all Tundra Swans could they not be juvenile Mite Swans or Trumpeter Swans??what’s the likelihood of all of these Tundra Swans coming to California? I’m here to learn so please keep it civil

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Like a lot of birds, tundra swans migrate. The arctic isn’t a terribly easy place to live in the winter, so they fly south.

Per this range map Tundra swans overwinter in some parts of California. During the winter, they’re the most common swans some places (notably mid-to-northern San Joaquin Valley marshes), turning up in large numbers.


While Tundra Swans breed in the arctic tundra, they come south to spend the winter. Many come to California’s central valley. Not all Tundra Swans have a yellow spot; it is pretty variable. The european subspecies of Tundra Swan (Bewick’s Tundra Swan) winters in California in small numbers, and that one has a very large spot of yellow, whereas many of the American ones have little to no yellow. Most birds have at least some. The best ways to tell Tundra Swans from Trumpeters is by the bill shape (long and sloping in Trumpeter, shorter and thicker in Tundra) and overall size and shape. It is usually safe to say that Trumpeters won’t have any yellow, though a very tiny amount of them do have a pale spot. It can definitely be confusing, but as Trumpeter is pretty rare its safe to say that the vast majority of swans in California in the winter are Tundras.


Unless you are in an area with an introduced Mute Swan population. But those should be different enough to tell.

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