More scenes of flying birds from our Crex Meadows field trip last week-end: Trumpeter Swans on the move.
Crex Meadows is a 30,000 acre network of marshes, lakes, wet meadows, and intermittent oak forest, part of which is set aside as a refuge for waterfowl breeding in and migrating through the area. It is a remnant of old Glacial Lake Grantsburg that covered this area more than 10,000 years ago. A variety of bird species use it as a staging area for migration south, like the Sandhill Cranes featured in yesterday’s post. Trumpeter Swans are usually in great abundance here as well, although we only saw about a dozen of them.
By size alone, Trumpeter Swans are the largest living species of waterfowl. They are also one of the heaviest birds capable of flight, with big males weighing up to 30 pounds (14 kg). Even with large wingspans of 6-8 ft (~ 2 meters), taking off from a horizontal surface takes some effort. Consequently, swans typically flap their wings to lift their bodies out of the water and then propel themselves forward pushing their large webbed feet along the surface water — launching themselves into the air with a running take-off.