Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) are one of the largest and most easily identified bird species in Humboldt county. There are several subspecies of this elegant bird–the ones we see around here are “Whistling Swans”. You’ll start to see whistling swans in the marshes and estuaries of Humboldt bay starting in late fall and early winter. During the rest of the year, they are traveling or enjoying the summer in Alaska and Canada. During their winters in California, whistling swans will feast on aquatic plants and leftover agricultural crops, venturing far from the coast into the central valley and Southwest.
Their populations are fairly strong, and have experienced only a slight decline in the last hundred years, mainly due to habitat loss. If you’d like to see these beautiful birds, try a walk at Hookton Slough in Loleta. There’s usually a few mingling with the other waterfowl, and they’re easy to spot from a distance!
PC: Bryant Olsen on Flickr Sources: Wikipedia – Tundra Swans