Baking: Tundra Swan

 

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Cygnus columbianus

Length: 47-57 in Weight: 8-23 lbs

Identification:

Distinguished from other swans by a solid bill, with variable amount of yellow extending from the eye to about the base of the bill. A large white bird with black feet.

TUSW

Distribution: 

Breed along the Alaskan and northern Canadian coast. Winter primarily in the Pacific northwest and New England.

Cool Facts:

The North American Trumpeter Swan, or Whistling Swan, was once considered a separate species from the European Tundra Swan, or Bewick’s Swan, which has more extensive yellow on the bill.

Tundra Swans are the most common swan in North America, with a current population estimate of over 170,000 birds (USFWS 2016)

Fresh Off the (Science) Press:

Historically, many of our bird species were defined by their plumage characteristics, which would explain why we once considered Bewick’s and Whistling Swans to be separate species on the basis of their different bill coloration (and the fact they live on different continents!). However, modern species are increasingly defined based on DNA evidence, which can result in combining of species (like Bewick’s and Whistling into Tundra Swan), or even separation of species that look very similar. These species delineations are rarely set in stone, and especially for wide-ranging species like the Tundra Swan, studying DNA across subspecies continues to be a cutting-edge area of research (Wang et al. 2014).

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References:

All About Birds

Waterfowl Population Status 2016, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Wang, J, G Liu, L Zhou, H Qing, L Li, B Li, L Zhang. 2014. Complete mitochondrial genome of tundra swan Cygnus columbianus jankowskii (anseriformes: anatidae). Mitochondrial DNA Part A 27: 90-91.

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