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Trumpeter Swan

Cygnus buccinator


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.

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89 Comments (1–25)

JanelleL.Streed 10 years ago

Thank you so much, alicelongmartin! :-)))

alicelongmartin 10 years ago

Wonderful story and pictures!

JanelleL.Streed 10 years ago

QWMom-Right?! Others taken around that same time brought the play of Romeo and Juliet to mind. :-) Thank you!

QWMom 10 years ago

So beautiful. Pic #1 looks like a scene from a ballet!

JanelleL.Streed 11 years ago

Thank you so much Ali Hemati Pour, Seema, Stian Waaler and MayraSpringmann!! :-)

MayraSpringmann 11 years ago

Wow! Fascinating!!

Stian Waaler
Stian Waaler 11 years ago

Amazing pictures!

Seema 11 years ago

graceful swan..

Ali Hemati Pour
Ali Hemati Pour 11 years ago

Beautiful shot!:-)

JanelleL.Streed 11 years ago

Thank you also Ruchats, Gerardo and Telse!!!

JanelleL.Streed 11 years ago

Thank you so much Atul, Jellis, Reza, cole, Nuwan, Lauren, Yuko, Johan, Malcolm, Braulio, Kim, patty, Fyn, Antonio, Leanne, Maria dB, Jill, and Joshua!!! I appreciate your wonderful comments and congratulations very much! :-)

JanelleL.Streed 11 years ago

KarenL.-With all the amazing images on Project Noah, I am deeply honored by this. Thank you so much!

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 11 years ago

gorgeous congrats!

JillBlack 11 years ago

Beautiful photo series. Congrats on SOTD

Maria dB
Maria dB 11 years ago

Beautiful series. Congratulations on your SOTD!

LeanneGardner 11 years ago

Congratulations Janelle on your SOTD. Beautiful shots of an elegant bird :)

awesome Janelle,beautiful capture,congrats on the SOTD,thanks for sharing

Fyn  Kynd
Fyn Kynd 11 years ago

Awesome spot! Congrats!

ruchats 11 years ago

Just WOW!!! :)

patty 11 years ago

Wonderful swan, picture and description Janelle! The first picture is amazingly beautiful, it has so much movement in it and contrast which makes you wonder if it is delicate or not.
Your description also helps a lot because as you say that the water was very cold one can picture the sensation and where the water vapor is coming from. It is interesting to know that they can be find in wild lakes and that they can find found around. I have also seen swans in winter, are there more in summer or is winter and summer more or less the same for them?
It is amazing that you get to sit between them and photograph them naturally, the outcome is magnificent! Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and describing those moments.

KimChampagne 11 years ago

I knew from my first glance of this photo it was a winner....Way to go...In my opinion this is a truly incredible capture....Thank You for that :)

Braulio Rivas Tapia
Braulio Rivas Tapia 11 years ago

I KNEW it, Janelle!

Congratulations - well deserved.

Johan Heyns
Johan Heyns 11 years ago

Perfect pictures. Well done!

YukoChartraw 11 years ago

I knew this was coming! Congratulations on your well-deserved honor Janelle!
This photo really is beautiful!

Spotted by

Fergus Falls, Minnesota, USA

Spotted on Feb 7, 2011
Submitted on Dec 10, 2012

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