Destinations: Swan viewing in Skagit County

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mount Baker from the Skagit Valley

Text and photos by Wayne Pridemore

One of our favorite day trips is to photograph the swans in Skagit County. The swan is the largest waterfowl in North America. The swan flocks consist of two species, the Tundra and the Trumpeter. They have wintered there and will migrate north in the coming spring.

Field of swans in Mount Vernon field

The Tundra is the smaller of the two, with a body length of 47 to 58 inches. It has a black bill with a small yellow spot in front of each eye. The Tundra will sing a departure song when it takes to the air, described as the most beautiful of utterances of waterfowl. The song is a melodious soft and muted series of notes.

Swans in field at Mount Vernon

The Trumpeter has a body length of 59 to 72 inches. It also has a black bill but without any yellow spot. The Trumpeter almost became extinct by 1916. The federal government created protections laws and the swan's population grew from a one hundred birds to several thousands now. 

The swans will be found in fields around Mount Vernon. The flight photos were taken at the Johnson-DeBay Swan Reserve.

From the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce:

Mount Vernon sits at the center of Skagit County, a true slice of Pacific Northwest heaven located halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. About 25 miles wide and 95 miles long, some of Washington’s most scenic and pristine landscape is found in the Upper Skagit’s North Cascades National Park. From there the land flows like the Skagit River through nutrient-rich farmland to the shores of the Salish Sea. What makes Skagit really unique is the health and diversity of its natural resources.


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