Friday, January 29, 2010

6 swans a-sitting

..well, they weren't swimming, because the lake was frozen, but it was delightful seeing these big birds!  Trumpeter swans were thought extinct in the first part of the 20th century, but they're making a comeback--there are an estimated 1000 birds now...

We just see them in Missouri as they migrate through in fall, winter, and early spring--but I think it was the FIRST time I'd ever seen them here!  Their range is pretty big, from the tundra of Alaska to Missouri and a bit south...

Learn more about these big birds from the Trumpeter Swan Society, or from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology.

Trumpeter Swans

They're huge--25-30 pounds, wiith a 7 to 8-foot wingspan. Some of them have rusty or orangish heads--that's because the feathers get stained when they feed in iron-rich water or mud.

They ARE considered rare and endangered, and anyone who shoots one is in for a heavy fine for this federal offense. They are quite different from the only other large white waterfowl; snow geese weigh much less, and have a wingspan approximately three feet shorter. Their bills and feet are pinkish, white trumpeters have black bills and feet. Their necks are quite long in relation to their'd have to be blind to confuse the two species, but some have said they've done just that.

I didn't get to hear them trumpeting--just grumbling because I was too close!  As you can see below, I really didn't get close enough to take a really good picture, though.

My "studio" is usually pretty simple--the front seat of the Jeep or our truck, Rosie.  It's a bit awkward, but it's OUT there...and warmer in the Jeep than it was outdoors, right around freezing...

Photo, Jeep Studio

It was wonderful just being OUT there...after all our snow and ice, being outdoors felt great. I needed it! And as if for a reward, the sun came out for an hour or so, just after I took the photo...lovely!

This was graphite, ink, and watercolor on Winsor & Newton hot press paper.


  1. I just love the composition of this page Kate! That bit of blue with the close-up is so perfect. And lots of info too. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Teri! I just needed something to set him off from the background...and aren't they fascinating??

  3. Love this page, Kate! Your choice to do a close up head/neck shot is stunning with the blue block. Great info, too. Don't you just love when the birding gods are with you?

  4. Thank you, Pam! And YES, I was so delighted...


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