I’ve been watching this group of Trumpeters for 6 years now. There are 8 Trumpeter swans in this ballet. When I first found them the male (K-19) still had his green neck ID tag on but K-18 had already lost her neck ID. When researchers captured them they put a plastic coloured neck ID on them. They also banded one of their ankles with a metal ID tag. The neck ID is designed to drop off after awhile. I am guessing that by the time the neck tag drops off the researchers would hopefully of had sightings reported. They want to know where they go? Once Trumpeters find a nice quiet relaxing spot,they will come back to it again and again.

I found out the organization ( Canadian Wildlife Service out of Whitehorse) that monitors them and reported these two Swans K-18 and K-19. I found out the researchers had banded them at Taye lake in the Yukon. They stay there during the summer and migrate to this small bay near Tsapee Narrows (one mile east of Tofino) for the winter months.

I took the above shots last Monday March 18,2019. I went camping for four days. When I came back on Thursday they had flown the coup. I assume they are on their yearly migration back to Taye lake.



This was taken from my posting of January 21,2013:

(January 23rd,2013) Received some info about K19 from Jim Hawkings with the Canadian Wildlife Service out of Whitehorse. This is what he had to say about K19…………….”Not sure if anyone else (Ruth??) has tracked this down yet, but this is one of the birds captured in Yukon Territory, summer 2003 during the captures for the satellite telemetry study spearheaded by Ruth Shea and Rod Drewien. The bird was captured on 22 July 2003 at Taye Lake, 37 miles NW of Whitehorse (band # 1939-01708). It was not marked with a satellite transmitter. This is the first recovery I know of from this bird, but Ruth (or other folks in Southern BC) may have other sightings that never made their way to the banding lab’s recovery database. The other banded bird in the group was likely K19’s mate, formerly marked with neckband K18.
Sightings such as this help us continue to piece together the migrations and relationships between breeding and wintering grounds for Trumpeter Swans and other birds.”

I shot these on January 21,2013 when K-19 still had his neck tag on.




72 thoughts on “THE K-18/19 BALLET

      1. Welcome Wayne and it is with all the birds they love to fly together in a bunch means i wanted to say look what closeness they have with each other. I too when i sit at the promenade see so many of them flying together. It is so nice to see this scenario.

      1. That is true Wayne – I saw swans today too. Not in the air, but swimming in an alcove at Dingell Park. Mine were not as graceful as yours; most of the time they were driving for shad and had their bums in the air.

      2. When they have their rear up in the air they are eating. They forage the bottom. Thats why many die from lead poisoning! They ingest shot gun pellets and get lead poisoning.

      3. They did plenty of that today, as did the Canada geese, so either the plant life was good, or the shad were running. This was down at the Detroit River, so the fish and plant life did not die.

      4. they eat a lot aquatic salads! It took me two years to figure out who was making perfectly round holes in the gravel. It was the Trumpeters. I still do not know what they eating in the gravel? It has to be insects?

      5. Like grubs that would be hiding in the gravel? How can they sustain themselves just on insects and aquatic salads … the plants would be mostly water and they are big birds. They must have to eat a lot of plants to keep them full.

      6. It appears the juveniles do eat insects,small fish,fish eggs and small crustaceans.

        “These birds feed while swimming, sometimes up-ending or dabbling to reach submerged food. The diet is almost entirely aquatic plants. They will eat both the leaves and stems of submerged and emergent vegetation. They will also dig into muddy substrate underwater to extract roots and tubers. In winter, they may also eat grasses and grains in fields. They will often feed at night as well as by day. Feeding activity, and the birds’ weights, often peaks in the spring as they prepare for the breeding season.[24] The young initially include insects, small fish, fish eggs and small crustaceans in their diet, providing additional protein, and change to a vegetation-based diet over the first few months.”

      7. I have seen zero insect activity in that gravelled area. Even when I’ve dug some up I haven’t come across anything squirming.
        Just sent a letter off to a Jim Hawkings. He is a Biologist up in the Yukon. He may know? Will pass on the info.

      8. I learned something a few years ago that I didn’t know, despite having pet birds for years and having to provide them a dish of gravel or grit. Birds need it for their digestion as they don’t have teeth. Anyway, I came home from walking one day to find a lot of sparrows clinging to the bricks on one side of the house. It looked very strange, all these small brown blogs hanging on the light-colored brick. When I got online, I Googled – it was the sparrows eating the brick for their digestion. I was amazed and had never seen it before. Here I think the brick is worn from the elements and the sparrows are eating the brick/mortar.

      9. That’s too bad you got a bounce back; does he have another way to get hold of him? Perhaps those rocks are a mineral source of some type. I found the article on the birds eating the brick – this is the article I discovered when it happened … it was a while ago. No wonder things have to be tuck pointed all the time! I got here late due to walking and being gone until early afternoon … I have to hunker down and get some things done tomorrow and have to work tomorrow night a few hours … where does the time go? Anyway, this fascinated me about the sparrows, just sparrows as they are tiny,

      10. never seen birds pecking away at bricks before. Most houses out here have wood exteriors. Back east bricks are the mainstay.
        I will try to locate him (maybe he’s retired by now?) through another person he mentioned.

      11. OK, let me know – I’d be interested to find out and I still wonder if it is a mineral deficiency they lack and find in the rocks/gravel that have tumbled through the water? Also, maybe they use it as grit, just as the sparrows did in that article and did you read that the other types of birds were waiting for people who offer them eggshells for the same reason? I hope they are not destroying the side of my house – going to look when I go outside shortly.

      12. It could be but only they know and they aren’t a very chatty bunch.
        I wonder If you could put out something else they might prefer,sparing your house being eaten away like a Gingerbread house!

      13. That link I forwarded to you suggested putting out bowls or pans of grit like you’d give a domestic bird. That would encourage them to come by more often!

      14. When we had Joey (parakeet) and Sugar and Buddy (canaries), we just bought it at the pet store. It came in a small box and you didn’t use very much – a little “finger dish” (very small cup between the bars) per week. One box lasted over a year. But that was one bird – not a flock of them – I wonder how many would show up them. I saw the article said people put out eggshells as well. That would be messy, unless hard boiled. And there was a cardinal eating paint chips. They even said to use chicken wire – I already have wire mesh over the bathroom window as the sparrows build their nests under the blind. It is pretty bizarre what is going on out there. If that gravel is small, the swans may just be doing it for their digestion. But it would have to be really small pieces.

      15. I see………..of course the Trumpeters are much larger,the heaviest bird in North America with a 10 foot wing span.So logical they would need more grit.Thats a good question to ask Jim Hawkings. How much does a Trumpeter need? (if I can get ahold of him?) Maybe a pound a week?

      16. I seriously wonder if that is why they are in that gravel – I hope he answers you. They have to be swallowing it whole – biting it would hurt their bill. I just Googled around a little and found this site … I wonder if they have a gizzard, then grit is not necessary? Maybe you could find out the info here – this is swans in general though:
        Now going to work, will be back … I’ve not finished with comments or Reader.

      17. I’ll bet they dig down for the smaller stones … they must be choosy or break their bills. I thought it was interesting too – I’d like to go back and read it as it pertains to the mute swans. I want to find out when to look for cygnets at Dingell Park.

      18. You’re welcome Wayne. After I saw the first site which was interesting, I then wondered if there was an organization dedicated to the Trumpeter swan only – Bingo!

      19. Good, they’ll put you in touch with him for sure that way – I went back and looked at the site – lots of info on the Trumpeters – I’d like to go back and read the stories they featured.

  1. So nice to see the bandings are quite visible to the eye. Now that they are losing their neck bands, the leg bands might be harder to identify. But you have seen them enough times you probably recognize them even without the tags.

    1. Great shots – swans are such elegant birds. To Linda Schaub I would suggest try to move the bird feeder to a different area away from the side where the birds are picking out the mortar.

      1. Thank you Amy – Wayne passed along your suggestion. It was pretty amazing to see all the sparrows clinging to the brick – I had to look twice when I saw them doing this!

  2. I don’t like the collars, seem tight , just like the ones that men had to endure, and complained about in past years. I am aware of the reasons and pitfalls but it still is seemingly uncomfortable for the birds and unsightly. Overall they are beautiful to watch in their take-offs as you have captured here. It is good to hear the report back from the wildlife service, interesting to know some of the birds’ history and travels. Nice mood with the Great Blue Heron in the sunset.

    1. I said the same thing Jane but after talking to a Biologist about it I’m ok with it. They put a lot of thought into its design. They use a very stretchy material that does not constrict the throat and will fall off after a time.
      Considering Trumpeters eat only aquatic plants,the food going down is not chunky like what a Blue Heron swallows. A Heron will swallow a fish alive and wriggling,but a Trumpeter only swallows soft plants.
      That Heron on the header knows me well. Trying to sneak up on him is always a challenge. I got only a few shots before it took off!

  3. Beautiful photos of the trumpeter swans! Also, your photo of the eagle at the top of the page is fantastic! I don’t think I would want to see that coming toward me. :)

      1. That’s pretty amazing! I’m sure there’s a lot of trust on both your parts. It certainly makes for some very nice photos.

    1. I love them but they don’t love me! Some of my eagles love me and so allow me to get close.Trumpeters are a fussy lot!
      Of course if you find them in a pond in a city they look the same but act totally differently!

    1. they live around 25 years in the wild but much longer in captivity. Survival rate of the cygnets is about 50%. They nest up north and than fly south in the Fall time so I do not get to see the cygnets as chicks.
      thanks for stopping in Noelle,always so nice to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s