On November 18, David Liebl recorded these Tundra Swans on University bay. The brilliantly white swans, with their black beaks in elegant contrast, had been sighted earlier this month, but here are the photos. The swan population on the bay usually increases once there is an ice shelf. And, occasionally the rare Trumpeter Swan will join the Tundras, recognizable by its loud honking call and often by a numbered yellow neck band. So Thanksgiving is the time to walk at Picnic Point and stop at the boat landing at the Bay to view the swans and other waterfowl.
The Tundra Swans in the photos may have come all the way from the Colville River delta along the northern coastline of Alaska, and are now taking advantage of plenty of food in the Bay – until Lake Mendota freezes. From here they would fly on to their wintering grounds in the Chesapeake Bay, completing the longest migration route for Tundra Swans, about 4200 miles. Their migration might take longer than their nesting time in Alaska.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors