Tundra Swans expected soon
It’s Tundra Swan time again! The birds are expected to arrive close to March 20, but it’s really up to them when they arrive. The Lambton Heritage Museum and Pinery Provincial Park host the Return of the Swans festival until March 30.
Information from Friends of Pinery Park website: http://www.pinerypark.on.ca/birds.html:
These beautiful snow white creatures make the 6,000 km round trip journey each year beginning in early March in Chesapeake Bay and arriving in the Arctic by early May.
Tundra Swans are attracted to the long summer Arctic days. Plants and insects are favourite foods of the swans, and summer is when plant growth is abundant and insect activity is high in the Arctic. The birds nest on the Arctic islands; nests consist of a mound of moss and grass 30-60 cm high and 60-90 cm wide. Four or five eggs are laid in late May and hatch in a little over a month. Newborn tundra swans sport a dusk gray colour and don’t receive their full white plumage until the second summer. The chicks fly by 11 weeks of age when they must be ready for the late September voyage back to Chesapeake Bay.
Often mistaken for the larger Trumpeter Swan, the Tundra Swan can be distinguished by it’s mellow high pitched hoo-ho-hoo call, which is somewhat similar to that of the Canada Goose. The Tundra Swan is also a much smaller bird than the Trumpeter Swan. Adults have a small, yellow dot below the eye.
The express route from Chesapeake Bay to Pinery takes about 24 hours. It is the first stop on the 3,000 km journey to the Arctic, which will take three months to complete. The swans arrive at Pinery in early March and will stay anywhere from three to 14 days depending on the weather, food supply and flooding. As many as 10,000 swans can be seen at one time if the conditions are favorable.
To see the swans, visit the “Old Thedford Bog,” which consist the fields behind the Lambton County Heritage Museum. This staging area gives the swans a place to rest and eat on their journey North. Crop residues and flooded fields keep the swans in the Grand Bend area for weeks. In previous years Tundra Swans have been seen as early as February 16 and have still been spotted as late as mid April.