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Adult Trumpeter Swans during the season when they "pair up" and put on unusual or interesting displays. Think Valentine's Day when love is in the air, about 1-2 weeks prior to and following February 14th but this may be something more to do with temperatures and conditions than actual calendar dates. This particular year the water levels were high or normal but the temperatures were very cold so many lakes froze up or froze to a degree that large gatherings were only found on the faster flowing river.
Here in Minnesota Trumpeter Swans can be found in Monticello and along the Otter Tail River in north-western Minnesota, provided the river stays open and doesn't freeze over completely, from late November through mid March. Last summer I found various groups of individuals and families with young in Frazee, Minnesota and a few stayed on the river and in lakes in Otter Tail County but the majority left or migrated further north into Canada (I believe). These particular Trumpeter Swans were photographed on the Otter Tail River in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
The Trumpeter Swans I observed primarily ate what they found in the water (green vegetation: shoots or reeds, it appeared) however, many were observed eating in farm fields alongside Canadian Geese and Mallards, where farmers had grown and harvested corn crops the previous summer. Young (what I assumed to be, based on larger size and aggression levels) males seemed to compete with each other for the unattached female's attention. The males (again, assumed based on size and behavior) would sometimes gather together in groups of 2-6 sticking out their enlarged chests (?) and spreading their wings out, as if on display or "strutting" for the females. Occasionally a brawl would happen where one or more would chase off another competitor (?) biting with their beaks at wings, necks and tail feathers. I've observed similar behavior in Canadian Geese but I'm not sure if it was an outsider, challenger or simply something it did to upset or irritate the others. I pushed the camera, the battery and my body to the max this year but I think it was worth it. In three or four months I learned more about Trumpeter Swans than I had from half a dozen books or articles about them. Coming from the Twin Cities, where I'd never seen a Trumpeter Swan in the wild, they fascinated me. The more time I spent with them, the more they peeked my curiosity. At first I just wanted to get closer to them, capture them in better lighting, etc...In the end I had to know why they did certain things and what their body language was saying...Maybe I read more into it than it was but, eventually they got used to me and accepted me sitting on the ground amongst them. I think that's when you get the most natural images and when you catch the unique or intriguing images as well.
Spotted on Feb 7, 2011
Submitted on Dec 10, 2012
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