What kind of goose is that?

Photo: Heather Pantrey

Photo: Heather Pantrey

I love it when people send me photographs. I received this in March and was asked what kind of geese these are. It’s a good question because these large birds were flying in a “V” formation when spotted flying over Col Sam Smith Park, just as Canada Geese do.

Were they snow geese? Another good question because of the brilliant white colouring. However, snow geese show black on wing tips when they are in the air.

Snow Geese

Snow Geese

Photo: Heather Pantrey

Photo: Heather Pantrey

The long necks give it away. These are Tundra Swans. Every time I have ever seen a tundra swan, the bird was far away and I was peering through a telescope.

In Ontario, most observers connect this species with the great springtime concentrations at Long Point and elsewhere along the north shore of Lake Erie. North of this migration corridor this species is generally uncommon to rare.

Many older bird identification guides do not even mention the tundra swan as it was formerly called the “Whistling Swan.”

Tundra swans are smaller than the mute swan and carry their heads atop a stiffly erect neck. tundraswan-2

They are very similar in appearance to the larger Trumpeter Swan that we sometimes see in urban areas.

Tundra swans nest on marshy tundra lakes. In winter they form large flocks in and forage on agricultural fields by day and roost on open water by night.


Miles Hearn


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