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Jeff Lampe
Jeff Lampe

Jeff Lampe has been outdoor writer at the Journal Star in Peoria for 12 duck seasons. He lives in Elmwood with his wife Monica, sons Henry, Victor and Walter, and Llewellin setter Hawkeye. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., he is an avid fan of the Bills and still has mental scars from four consecutive Super Bowl losses. Outside of hunting and fishing, Lampe's main passion in Illinois was Class A boys basketball (which sadly no longer exists). Former publisher of the Class A Weekly newsletter, Lampe is a co-author of "100 Years of Madness" and "Classical Madness," both books focusing on prep basketball in Illinois.

Illinois Outdoors


A Web log by Jeff Lampe of the Journal Star

Illinois hunting and fishing

Is it a trumpeter or a tundra swan?

July 13, 2010 at 05:05 PM

A story from earlier this summer about mute swans has prompted continued conversation and calls.

Readers have lots to say. That includes Eric Swanson, who sent these two pictures of migrating swans he spotted this spring in Warren County, a few miles southwest of Abingdon.

One of the big birds was sporting a yellow collar.

Illinois hunting and fishing

So are these tundra swans? Or trumpeters?  From my cursory Web research, these look like trumpeter swans to me. But they could be tundra swans. The only thing I can say for sure is that they are not mute swans.

Here’s some identification information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Click here to read more.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The trumpeter is often confused with the more common tundra swan, the only other native swan found routinely in North America. Tundra swans can be seen in Wisconsin only during spring and fall migration. So how can you tell them apart? Look for the following.

Trumpeter. The trumpeter swan has a deep, loud trumpet-like call.

Tundra. The tundra swan has a high-pitched, quavering call that sounds more like a Canada goose.

Both swans are white with black bills which makes it pretty tough to tell them apart, but there are some differences. If you look at a side view of the two birds, you’ll notice that the tundra swan’s bill is slightly dish-shaped and smaller in proportion to its smoothly rounded head. The bill of the trumpeter looks heavy and somewhat wedge-shaped in proportion to its large, angular head. The best way to tell them apart is by their calls.

There’s another swan that can be confused with the trumpeter and that is the mute swan. This bird is not native to North America. European immigrants brought it to this country. It is found commonly along the East Coast of the United States and in scattered locations in the Midwest. The mute swan is considered to be an undesirable non-native species that harasses native waterfowl (ducks and geese) and uproots large amounts of aquatic vegetation. The mute swan is easily told apart from other swans by its orange bill and the prominent black, fleshy knob extending from the base of its bill to its forehead.



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