When the days shorten and go gray in mid-November your Metroparks get a special visitor. Tundra Swans drop in to load up on food during their journey from the arctic tundra nesting grounds to their winter home in Chesapeake Bay.
They often can be seen with two other species of swans on our larger lakes – Trumpeter Swans and the invasive Mute Swan. Tundra Swans can be difficult to tell apart from Trumpeter Swans by looking. While Trumpeters are larger, this size difference can be hard to see unless both species are side by side. Tundra Swans make a soft whistle, while Trumpeter Swans sound like someone blowing a trumpet. Mute Swans, as the name implies, tend to stay quiet and look different due to the bulb on their orange bill, and the way they hold their neck in a S shape.
After a brief rest and refuel on aquatic plants for a couple of days most Tundra Swans move on. A few seem to always over winter along the shores of Lake Erie Metropark, so if you miss the migration there is a second chance to add this traveler to your bird list.