North Island Explorer: Guide to North Vancouver Island






Trumpeter Swans: Cygnus buccinator


Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus Buccinator)


Photo 1: Trumpeter Swan at Buttle Lake.

The Trumpter Swan is a migratory bird that winters on Vancouver Island as well as other Pacific Northwest locations. It spends its summers in Alaska, the Yukon and northern British Columbia. It is the largest swan in the world and the largest waterfowl in North America. Trumpeter Swans are dabblers, eating aquatic plants from the bottom of lakes and wetland.


Photo 2: Group of three Trumpeter Swans.

Driven nearly to extinction, the Trumpter Swans are making a comeback. A survey done in 2000 put the combined Trumpter Swan population of the three major groups at about 23,000, which is up from an estimated 1000 birds in the early 20th century.  A survey from 2002 estimated that about 7000 of those birds winter on Vancouver Island. While, the increase in population is heartening, there is still great concern for the continued survival of these birds: From 1999-2005, about 1900 birds have died, probably as a result of lead poisoning. Autopsies on the dead animals have revealed that the source of lead is lead shot that ends up in gravel, which the birds ingest to aid digestion. The solution is to replace lead with non-toxic loads in shotgun shells.


Photo 3: Trumpeter Swan taking off from water.

I have seen as many as twenty swimming together in Buttle Lake and more in the Upper Campbell. A great number of swans winter in Comox as well. We are fortunate to be able to see so many of one of North America's rarest native birds.


Photo 4: A possible pair of swans.

Trumpter Swans are monogamous, forming long-term bonds.









Trumpeter Swan in winter nesting grounds.


 Trumpter Swans at Buttle Lake.


Trumpter Saw taking off from water.


Trumpter Swans population is in crisis.










































Population Status of Swans by Environment Canada.


Trumpeter Swan Society

 Other Vancouver Island Birds: Bald Eagle, Trumpeter Swan, Blue Grouse, Common Merganser, Canada Geese, Great Blue Heron