Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tundra Swan Trio

Tundra Swans are making their way back to the Arctic regions of the country for the nesting season. I have never seen one of these birds but always seem to hear "you just missed the fifty that were in this swamp an hour ago". There are areas near Lake Erie and Lake Huron where they rest during migration so I decided to drive an hour south west of home to see them. Aylmer Ontario is a small community north of Lake Erie and the swans rest near the grounds of the Ontario Police College each spring. The ponds at the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area are now surrounded by fencing and four viewing platforms have been constructed for the many visitors who come to see them. They even have a wheelchair accessible, enclosed platform that is very close to the pond. Tinted windows keep the birds from seeing the people.

There were about 2000 Tundra Swans here this day, down from a peak of 4000 a couple of days before. The swans are counted each morning and dried corn is put out for them to eat. Unlike the Trumpeter Swans in Burlington, these birds are not endangered in Ontario and are not tagged with big yellow numbers. I took a lot of pictures of these beautiful birds and will undoubtedly feature more in another post.

I chose three birds out of two thousand because they seemed to have special talent, standing out among the crowd. All this picture is missing is the microphone and the band! The band was there in the background and while these swans are not as melodic as the Trumpeter Swans, they do make a real racket.

The ponds will be silent by the first of April except for the Canada Geese that are setting up nests here. I am sure there will be many other birds this season that will make their nests in the swamps and grassland surrounding the ponds;- a good reason to plan a return visit.


  1. Thank you for this link. I am probably too late to get a viewing of the Tundra's, but will venture over there anyway this weekend since it's not that far away (and I didn't even know about it).

  2. Anonymous7:46 am GMT-4

    Wow...you missed 2000 birds by a couple of days. Seeing the 2000 would be something, and so would have the noise. Is there much difference between the Trumpter and Tundra Swan? Is the Tundra somewhat smaller?

    Love the "band" picture...that is too funny. Even in the bird world, there is always a few that have to make themselves stick out in a crowd.

  3. That must have been such a sight. Great photographs and nice summary.

  4. They are very beautiful. I have never seen them before.

  5. Lovely pictures.Spring is such an exciting time of year.

  6. You just reminded me that it's time to go check out the backroad near me. It's one alternate way into town (Leamington) from where I am near Point Pelee, and I never take it, except last year at this time there was a detour. I saw dozens and dozens of sawns in the fields there, and wondered if if was an annual resting spot. If you might make it as far as Leamington, you can email me if you like and I'll tell you where the road and if they are. Need a good telephoto lens though.

  7. What beautiful birds. I'm glad you got to see them, and I enjoyed taking part through the photos. It's fun to take note of the migrations of various species.

  8. What beautiful birds they are.....I love your selected trio and your write up is extremely amusing......

  9. wow..what a lot of birds! I can imagine the noise, when I compare what the little birds here do! Thanks for visiting My World today!

  10. Anonymous9:01 pm GMT-4

    The tundra swans were at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge in the Finger Lakes last weekend. We saw several there, and a few on Cayuga Lake nearby. I think there were greater numbers reported the weekend before. Love your trio!

  11. What a great day for you, and 2000 swans ain't bad. I really like the band and flight trios. It seems not all have the golden highlights. Is that gender related?
    Great captures, look forward to seeing more.

    BTW, Grand Canyon gets about 5 million visitors a year and the North Rim only gets 10% of that, so it is mellow compared to the South Rim.

  12. In the last picture, I can almost hear the noise!

  13. Violet- I sent you an email...hope you got it

    Cheryl- I think there are 6-8000 swans near the shores of Lake Huron this week. However, they are far out and hard to see. These swans were right there. I have not seen a Trumpeter and Tundra swan side by side. They look much the same to me except for the little bit of yellow near the eye.

    NCMW- Thanks. It was a great sight.

    Sandy- Now I have seen all the native swans in N.America. Nice that they migrate through here.

    Ruth- You are right. I am seeing something new every day (except no flowers yet)

    Deborah- I have to get to Point Pelee sometime. I wonder if the place is too crowded in May when the warblers arrive.

    Janie- You likely get the birds that migrate on the western routes...a whole other set of feathers!

    Cheryl- They were actually scrapping and fighting a little, not really in harmony with each other :-0

    Annie- and I was afraid there would be nothing there after driving all the way out to the pond.

    Jan- Your swans are likely in Ontario by now. The weather has not been great for migrating birds this week though with cold north winds.

    Gaelyn- I took those pictures through tinted glass in the lookout and it added a yellowish tinge. I tried to photoshop it out. Some of the birds are stained from fishing in water with high iron content.

    Jean- I took a video but it is so jerky it would make you nauseous! I would like to save the sound file though.

  14. The first thing I thought of when I saw the last photo was The Supremes! Our trumpeter swans will be passing through in a few weeks.

  15. Yes, I did. Thank you. I'll post my findings after my adventure out there.

  16. Ruth,

    Your photos of the tundra swans are awesome. I have never seen these birds but am not sure I can make it in time to see them this year. The "band" photo is terrific.

    2,000 swans would make quite a racket, I'm sure. You always give me inspiration to visit other communities in our area. I hope to take Mom and the boys to do a little birdwatching at Alymer.


  17. All of those years in Sarnia, and I never once got up the lake to see them. Oh well.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.