North American Water Birds – Whistling Swan

The other North American species is the Whistling Swan (C. Columbianus), a smaller bird than the last, being only about four and one half feet long and with a spread of wings of about seven feet. The bill and lores are black, the latter marked with a yellow spot before the eyes, thus distinguishing it from the Trumpeter. Of the notes of this species, Dr. Brewer says: “It usually arrives at its regular feeding grounds at night, and signalizes its coming by loud and vociferous screaming, with which the shores ring for several hours. . . . When feeding, or dressing their plumage, this Swan is usually very noisy, and at night these clamors may be heard to a distance of several miles. Their notes are varied, some resembling the lower ones made by the common tin horn, others running through the various modulations of the notes of the clarionet. These differences are presumed to be dependent upon age.” During the summer this bird may be found rearing its young on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, where Mr. MacFarlane found some thirty nests during his residence of several years in that inhospitable land in the interest of the Hudson Bay Company. The nests were all on the ground and were similar in appearance to those of the last species. The maximum number of eggs was five, these averaging about four by two and three fourths inches. In winter this Swan comes as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and was formerly found on the Chesapeake Bay, but it is now a very rare bird in the Eastern States. It occasionally wanders as far east as Scotland and has also been found in eastern Asia.