Tuesday I got a call from another conservation minded friend who had seen what appeared to be a non-Mute Swan on our lake. He indicated that it was large and had a black bill. Tundra swans have visited the lake in large numbers but I had yet to see a Trumpeter swan here. He had a suspicion that it might actually be a Trumpeter. From a distance it appeared to be socializing with a Mute swan and he was curious. Once I got to the location I could see the Mute swan near what did turn out to be a Trumpeter. It was having anything but a friendly relationship with a native Trumpeter Swan..
The Mute as they typically do, was harassing what was the first visiting Trumpeter I’ve seen on our lake. It was repeatedly driving the Trumpeter up onto the shore to establish its dominance.This Mute has determined that it owns the entire north end of White Lake and has imprinted its dominance on virtually all of the waterfowl in the vicinity for years. It is an excellent example of how Mute Swans can destroy the natural nesting habits of native waterfowl. The territory of Mute Swans is practically endless and they will harass other species even when there are no signets or even a nest within hundreds of yards. The irony is that the Mute Swan is an exotic invasive species with a well known harmful impact on the native species and it is protected by State of Michigan law. Brilliant! The State of Michigan favors exotic invasive species over native species?
Distinguishing a Tundra Swan from a Trumpeter Swan is difficult unless you can get a good look. A 400mm lens is a big help. The Trumpeter has black associated with its bill that includes its eye on the right. The Tundra Swans’ black marking reaches the eye but doesn’t surround if. There may also be a yellow patch near the eye that only the Tundra Swan has.