Trumpeter Swan confirmed!
The swan I found yesterday at the Rondout Reservoir has been confirmed to be a TRUMPETER SWAN!! Tom Burke and I (more Tom!) have worked tirelessly over the last day to conclusively ID this bird. It clearly exhibited the characteristics of a Trumpeter Swan, ie. arcing border on back of bill from base to the eye, eye completely encompassed in the front by the black rather than the black ending just as it meets the front of the eye as in Tundra, the long flat head and the straight line from bill tip to the point at the top of the head rather than rounded as in Tundra. It had no yellow spot in the lores, though this can also vary in Tundra’s. It also showed the flatly rounded back of a Trumpeter while in the water as opposed to the slightly higher back of a Tundra. All of these characteristic had us leaning to Trumpeter. The most concerning feature that kept us guessing was the rather rounded margin of the bill at the forehead. It showed only a minor “V” in the very middle and had us questioning that characteristic. I finally sent a dozen photos of mine and Bruce Notts to Kevin McGowan at Cornell University who reviewed them and confirmed the bird to be a Trumpeter Swan! (Thank you Kevin!) Kevin noted all the features we were seeing and asserts that due to variability in individual birds that the “U” verses “V” in the forehead is not a consistently reliable field mark in making a final identification. This is all wonderful news and we can celebrate this bird as the second record of Trumpeter Swan for Sullivan County! The bird continues today on the Rondout. If you haven’t had a chance, get over there and see it! Then, submit and ebird report! Thanks!