Tundra Swans
Patterns in the Sky
March 2005


The first encounter Sue and I had with migrating tundra (or whistling) swans was on March 11. We were walking in the game land behind Coopers Pond when we heard cheering. That was a little puzzling, since the football season at State College hasn't begun yet.

It was snowing off and on, so visibility wasn't particularly great, but then we saw the migrating birds. At first we thought it was another flock of Canada geese, but then we saw light glinting from their wings. They were tundra swans!

Light glinting off the wings of tundra swans

Apparently, State College is on one of the primary routes for tundra swans migrating to the extreme north, something which we never saw while living on Long Island. After a few weeks, tundra swans and their glorious chant became a fact of life, but one which we'd never tire of hearing.

Last week at Bald Eagle State Park, flock after flock of tundra swans flew overhead. Some flocks were small, and others, such as the one below, were huge.

Enormous flight of tundra swans

Occasionally, a flock passed not only low but directly overhead. The following is a selection of two larger flocks. One V is overtaking another.
A closer flight of tundra swans

Other swans were in the far distance. The final photo shows a complete flock making its way to the shores of the Canadian arctic.
Departing flock of tundra swans

Photo note: I used a Pentax *istD, with the SMC 400-600mm reflex lens at the 600mm end for these photos.

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