Dickens county Swan, 3 January 2005
Jan 03, 2005 15:38 PST
This afternoon (3 January) I made a trip over to Dickens county, and was able
to relocate the swan found by DD Currie and Dell Little, in the same location
they found it yesterday- on Hwy 70 at the intersection of County Road 392, a
few miles southeast of Spur, on the east side of the road.
Finding the bird took a little time, there are ponds on either side of Hwy
70, both of which are (by West Texas standards) enormous, and both have
extensive brush (piles and individual bushes). The place looks perfect for Wood Duck,
and even a big white bird can hide if it wants to.
As for the species, I lean towards a first-year Tundra Swan. I got to watch
the bird for about 45 minutes, but at quite a distance. The bill was solid
black, I could detect no yellow lores or pink on the bill (which would be
present on either immature of Trump or Tundra- ??). I wasn't close enough to say if
the bill was a straight edge or concave. In the field, the eye appeared to
be isolated from the facial skin, more in line with Tundra swan and not
Trumpeter. Where the facial feathering met the bill, there was a change of angle (as
opposed to Trumpeter where its a smooth slide from the eye down to the bottom
of the bill). These two features seem to hold true in DD's photos too, after
I've gone back and looked at them again. Probably the best arguement for
Tundra is the head and neck feathers are a dusty grayish, whereas the back is a
bright white. The feathering where the forehead met the bill did appear to be
pointed, which would seem to be a mark against Tundra. On the other hand, I
can show you close photographs (nearly in-the-hand) of a banded Trumpeter in
which that border appears distinctly rounded, so I'm not sure how much gravity
that fieldmark should be given. In other photos of the same Trumpeter on
another day, the border appears more pointed, go figure.
All this being said, I've seen exactly two Trumpeter Swans and zero Tundra
Swans, so I don't have much to go on. I am hoping others with more experience
can comment on these birds.
No matter the species, great way to start off the year!
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