Trumpeter Swans

The trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), named for its resonant, trumpet-like call, is North America’s largest wild waterfowl, with a wingspan of up to 8 feet. These swans require open water, feed mainly on aquatic plants, and nest in wetlands. Although they once nested from Alaska to northern Missouri, by 1930 habitat loss and hunting nearly extirpated the species in the lower 48 states except for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The GYE population was thought to number only 69, and trumpeter swans no longer migrated to more productive winter habitats further south. Protection from hunting, establishment of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and captive breeding programs restored the lower 48 states’ population, but the resident population in Grand Teton and Yellowstone has been declining mortality for several decades.

Updated 8/2/10