Alaska’s tundra swans have a long haul for winter break

Every September, 12-yr-previous “Julia” flies four,200 miles from her residence in northern Alaska to spend winters in Annapolis, Maryland.

Touring in a “V” formation, she and her migrating companions take a number of months to make the cross-nation journey – stopping at waterways alongside the path to relaxation and eat.

By December, they be a part of tons of of different tundra swans, who feed on aquatic crops within the Chesapeake Bay till March, when their return journey begins.

Named by Annapolis residents, Julia is monitored by researchers by a collar together with her scientific identify, “T186.”

Craig Ely, a analysis wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Middle, stated T186 was banded July 27, 2006, within the Colville River Delta – certainly one of Alaska’s 5 tundra swan breeding areas.

Julia, tundra swan T186, has wintered in Annapolis yearly since 2006. (Ann Cameron Siegal)

Scientists hold monitor of Julia with the assistance of observers notifying USGS once they see her. Tundra swans are flightless briefly through the summer time as they shed their flight feathers (or molt) and develop new ones, so Alaska researchers have been capable of recapture Julia in 2009 whereas testing wild birds for avian flu. (She was fantastic.)

Many birds migrate, however some tundra swans spend a lot of the yr touring to and from breeding grounds. These from Julia’s house journey the farthest, wintering in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. These from Alaska’s western shore winter in Washington state, Oregon and Northern California. Tundras from Alaska’s decrease peninsula do not migrate in any respect.

“It is one thing of their DNA,” Ely stated, explaining the totally different routes. He and different researchers questioned whether or not distance traveled affected swan survival and breeding charges, however in 2016, they concluded it wasn’t a significant factor.

North America’s two native swan species have white our bodies, with black payments and ft. Grownup tundras weigh 15 to 17 kilos and have 6- to 7-foot wingspans.

The bigger trumpeter swans, discovered principally within the Midwest, sometimes present up within the Mid-Atlantic.

Tundra swan migration routes from 5 breeding areas in Alaska. Julia’s group follows the purple line. (USGS Alaska Science Middle)

You possibly can simply inform these species aside by their vocalizations. Trumpeters, as their identify suggests, sound as in the event that they’re tooting horns loudly. Lee Hendrik, 24, a park naturalist at Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia, stated tundra swans have soothing three-syllable, excessive-pitched…

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