Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans breed during the summer on the northern Arctic tundra.Β  During the winter, they migrate to the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coastal regions and larger in-land lakes.

Our Chesapeake Bay region is fortunate to host a huge number of Tundra Swans, where they feed almost exclusively on clams that they dislodge from the mud.

Tundra Swans are usually congregated off in the distance, primarily on the water/ice where they also sleep.

_DSC0093-1 12219

Tundra Swans sleeping on ice at Blackwater NWR (January)


Several days ago outside Cambridge, we were fortunate to come upon a small bank of Tundra Swans foraging in a farm field not too far from the road.

_DSC0015-1 22119

Tundra Swans


Tundra Swans pair up and bond for life when they reach 2-3 years old and remain together year-round.


_DSC0053-1 22119

Tundra Swans


_DSC0054-3 22119

Tundra Swans


There were a few juveniles in the herd, these three were more off to the side.

_DSC0083-1 22119

Three Tundra Swan juveniles in the foreground


Their parents kept a watchful eye on them.

_DSC0089-1 22119

Tundra Swans parents and one of the juveniles


One more from Blackwater NWR a few weeks ago….

_DSC0435-2 2719

Tundra Swan at Blackwater NWR


Such an elegant bird!



47 thoughts on “Tundra Swans

    • How awesome, Hien, I am glad you liked these! I am going to make you jealous, we travel the back roads from Cambridge MD to Middletown DE often and we frequently saw them all winter long on farm fields, usually around a farm’s private small pond. They are almost always WAY off in the distance, I’ve tried to take roads around on the GPS to get to some and can’t, lol. They are very smart at keeping their distance from humans. πŸ™‚ And BTW, around those same farm areas is also where you can find a field blanketed with Snow Geese too!

  1. I love seeing the tundra swans at Blackwater and Eastern Neck in large groups, and when I get real lucky, a few of them will come near our cove. This year we have two adults and a juvenile that have been periodic visitors. They are really beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Susan! I’ve been wanting to go to Eastern Neck NWR to see them this winter, but I haven’t found the time to go that far. I’ve gotten awesome images from them in previous years there at their “Tundra Swan Boardwalk”. How wonderful to have them near your cove. I was also always lucky to watch them from my balcony at Oyster Cove when they when come in and out of Marshy Creek at CBEC. I loved the evenings to mornings, listening to them chatter. Beautiful indeed!

  2. How refreshing to see these. I catch glimpses of them when they migrate and yes, they stay out from the shore. But to see them flapping their wings and making big splashes as they do so is a treat. I can see the yellow in front of the eye in the third photo but the curved neck in the bottom photo is not typical-could it be…?

    • Thank you, Jane! In the bottom photo, the Tundra Swan was moving, so they will move their neck back and forth and get a curve in the neck at times doing that. Is that what you are referring to? πŸ™‚

      • Yes, I wondered if it was a trumpeter because of the curve in the neck. What you said is something to keep track of in the wild when birding Books are one thing, but experience is a great teacher. Thank you.

        • I wish it were, it’d be a lifer for me! πŸ™‚ There are Trumpeter Swan sightings, but not often, I haven’t heard of any near by. That was a distant shot cropped so I cannot confirm a trumpeter or not actually. This one was with a group, I just photographed the one, had a car behind us so we had to move on. Every photo I take of the winter swans, I assume they are Tundras; but I look real hard in my close-up shots for a Trumpeter, you can bet! πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the comments, Jane, I need someone to keep me on my toes!

  3. I will never forget my excitement when I drove into a local park and saw a swan there. After parking the car and getting out for a closer look, I discovered it was plastic, placed there in an attempt to drive away the Canada Geese, which have over-populated the place. Didn’t work. Neither did the fake coyote.

  4. These are geese that usually travel by the thousands and when they leave they also leave the field pretty fertilized. I don’t thing they travel as far south as Georgia, I’ve never seen them, instead we get many Canada geese. Very good shots Donna. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, HJ! I’ve seen hundreds in flight at a time, and it was truly amazing with their size. Yes, there are sightings of Tundras in Georgia along the coast and in-state large lakes. Keep your eye out for the sky in next few weeks, you might see a few passing over migrating back to the Artic, how cool would that be! πŸ™‚

    • Our whole region is so lucky! I’m 1.5 hours from another close-by NWR in Maryland called Eastern Neck, which possibly hosts the most TSwans on the Bay. The refuge has the Tundra Swan Boardwalk to give people a chance to see them as close as possible. πŸ™‚ I’ve been trying to get over there before they head back north but haven’t made it.

    • Birds of habit. πŸ™‚ I just checked e-bird since HJ didn’t know if they came down as far as Georgia and I wasn’t sure either; it shows TSwans are even showing up now along the Gulf Coast and Florida coastline. Nice.

      • Here is how that happened… a southern plantation owner imported Canada geese, there weren’t any here (talk about careful what you wish for) from the west coast.

        The geese migrated north as they should, but were from the west coast and got really lost. Anyway… they came back south the next year, with 300 Tundra Swans.

        Every year they have come back, and now spend winter in the far marshes of the Lowcountry. Just saw some a few weeks ago.

        Whew… long story but that’s it.

  5. Very elegant. They seem to embody grace. Well… perhaps it’s something the juveniles need to work on! πŸ˜€
    Great captures, as always. Keep ’em coming!

  6. Indeed an elegant bird! I was amazed by the picture of them sleeping on the ice. They seem to have an internal “heater” to be able to do that.

  7. This is amazing. You have such a rich area for these birds and hope there are few problems for their survival. Here, Bewick, Whooper are the names of our swans that migrate to and from the tundras. But there has been a massive decline. Sir Peter Scott became a conservationist and created our Wildlife and Wetland Trusts. WWT and they are now involved in wildlife conservation.

    • Thank you, I am lucky to be in such a diverse area that provides protection and food for numerous species of wildlife, especially birds. I wish the WWT the best on bringing back your swans, they are such a beautiful, graceful bird.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: