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Wondering if we have a pair of trumpeter or tundra swans on our property in SE Minnesota.  Both are present in the area and I know they are notoriously difficult to tell apart.  Any help would be appreciated.

9D3826F9-AC0E-4447-875B-2B144573C2E8.jpeg

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Those are a pair of Trumpeters. In general there are no Tundra Swans in Minnesota (much less two of them). The way you would tell them apart (if there is no size reference), though, is you look for a yellow speck between the black of the bill and the eye. That yellow spot means Tundra, no yellow means Trumpeter.

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50 minutes ago, Querula said:

That yellow spot means Tundra, no yellow means Trumpeter.

This is not entirely true.  If there is yellow on the bill, it confirms Tundra, but if there is not, it does NOT necessarily confirm Trumpeter!!  About 10% of adult Tundras (number from Sibley) lack any yellow... It only works one way!

These birds very well may be Trumpeter Swans, but that is not confirmed by the lack of yellow at the base of the bill.

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Also, there are definitely Tundras in Minnesota-  just check the eBird map. There are dozens of recent sightings throughout the state.

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I don't have the experience to make the call however (I've never actually seen either species and am not very confident with analyzing bill characteristics).

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35 minutes ago, akiley said:

This is not entirely true.  If there is yellow on the bill, it confirms Tundra, but if there is not, it does NOT necessarily confirm Trumpeter!!  About 10% of adult Tundras (number from Sibley) lack any yellow... It only works one way!

These birds very well may be Trumpeter Swans, but that is not confirmed by the lack of yellow at the base of the bill.

Good to know! Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I was just trying to find a way for Ben to ID them in the future but guess I was wrong! If it is any consolation though, they are almost definitely not Tundra. I see Tundras every winter many times and the bill looks off. I’ve seen trumpeters a grand total of once, so I can’t say they ARE trumpeters but I can say they are 95% Tundra.

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The way the feathering at the top of the beak appears to come to a point favors Trumpeter. 

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