Trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) reach lengths of 60 inches, with wind spans of up to 95 inches. They weigh from 21 to 35 pounds, and can live up to 25 years. Nesting trumpeters can be found in western Montana, along the borders where Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska meet, and in central Minnesota and east central Wisconsin. They were once common throughout North America, but due to market hunting for down and feathers, plus subsistence hunting and egg collecting, they were presumed to be exterminated by the 1880's. In 1919 two nests were found in Yellowstone Park.


Minnesota swan restoration began in 1996 by the Hennepin County Parks commission. In 1982 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began a recovery program. By 1994 the project and released 215 swans, and there was an estimated free-flying flock of 250 birds in Minnesota. These birds winter on the Mississippi River just north of Minneapolis. This wintering area currently hosts about 900 swans from mid-November through late February.


Swans are bottom feeders, using their long necks to search for plants and tubers to eat from the bottoms of ponds, lakes and rivers. They begin nesting in mid-April, with nests as large as sex feet across, they often use muskrat or beaver hives as nesting platforms. They lay from 3 to 8 eggs, but have only a 30% hatching success ratio. Incubation lasts 33 days.


Newly hatched swans, called cygnets, may gain 20% of their body weight each day; they are fully feathered by 7-8 weeks, but are unable to fly until 15 weeks, they begin daily practice flights in mid-September. Cygnets are gray-colored for their first year.


The young swans remain with their parents throughout the winter. They are usually chased away from the parents during their second winter, but may stay with their siblings up to two years, thus most of the small groups seen flying consist of a mated pair, and their young of the past two years. During their second year young swans choose a mate on the wintering grounds; they remain mated to until one of them dies.


Young swans usually nest the first time between 3 and 6 years of age, on nests in remote areas, where they claim a territory of 3-6 acres; with a long expanse of open water, which they use to taxi before they take flight.


Lead poisoning from shotgun shell pellets, illegal hunting, power lines, predators and loss of habitat are the main threats to trumpeter swans.


Listen to a

Swan Call. Trumpeter Swan Mating Display Photos for more information. Also tours to view the wintering swans north of the Metro Area from mid-November through early March.

We are available 7 days a week for Natural History Tours for Birding, Wildlflowers, Wolf Howling, Elk Bugling, Bald Eagles, Tundra Swans, Sharp-teild Grouse, Prairie Chicken dancing, and much more.

We will be offering a Whooping Cane bus tour to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, to view wild Whooping Cranes, and to the International Crane Institute in Baraboo Wisconsin, to view the cranes of the world - on July 14, 2011. There will be room for approximately 50 people. This will be a great opportuntiy to photograph several species of crane from around the world. Fo4r more information contact

Through Trinity Mountain Outdoors Nature Tours, I will be offering Trumpeter Swan tours to Crex Meadows in west central Wisconsin, any day from now until mid-October. Contact

You can view photographs and a mating sequence of Trumpeter Swans at

You can read about more bird and mammal facts on the Trinity Mountain Outdoors Natural History & Travel Magazine at

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