Another bird that lets us know spring is knocking on our door is the Tundra Swan. These swans, as the name suggests, breed on the Arctic tundra of both Canada and Alaska; they migrate through the London area every year, often stopping over to rest and feed. These birds have been delayed this year due to the extreme winter and lack of open water, but several sightings in our area are starting to come in. Flocks of Tundra Swans can be seen flying overhead in the typical V formation, their white bodies contrasting against the blue sky. If you hear a goose-like call, only higher pitched, look to the sky as there is likely a flock of swans overhead. Swans can also be found in farm fields feeding on the remains of last fall’s harvest.
The majority of Tundra Swans that migrate through our area spend their winters along the Atlantic coast, with Chesapeake Bay being their desired winter location. This estuary surrounded by Maryland and Virginia is the perfect habitat for thousands of overwintering swans. As the swans migrate in a northwest direction to their Arctic breeding grounds, it puts the Great Lakes and Southwestern Ontario right in their flyway. March and April are the spring months for viewing these beautiful birds in our area. These birds can be readily found along the Lake Erie shoreline resting in the lake or feeding inland in corn and soybean fields. A couple of famous stopover locations in our area for Tundra Swans are the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area, and the Thedford Bog just south of Grand Bend. The Aylmer Wildlife Management Area has several viewing towers overlooking the ponds as well as a Swan hotline you can call with a daily swan count. For more information, including directions and the swan hotline number click here. Daily updates for swan numbers at the Thedford Bog can be found here. Calling ahead to the hotline is a good idea before making the drive to optimize viewing success. Closer views are usually achieved in Aylmer, but I have experienced hundreds of swans right next to the road in Thedford. Either way, the sight of these birds won’t disappoint.
Tundra Swans can be found feeding and resting in these areas by the hundreds and many times the thousands. The sight and sound of this is simply amazing and is something every birder and non birder should experience a least once in their lives. Planning a road trip to one of these swan destinations is something the whole family will enjoy. Check out the daily reports of whichever location is closest to you and make it a destination when Tundra Swan numbers increase. I think you will be glad you did.