Sunday, September 30, 2012

Trivia Question of the Week

This week's question:

What is the heaviest species of bird in North America?

Hint #1: Although the largest species of bird in North American is the California Condor, this bird has condors beat in the heavyweight category.

Hint #2: Most of their range is centered in Alaska and western provinces in Canada, but they can also be found in parts of Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota, among other locales in the northern US.

Hint #3: Along with being the heaviest bird in North America, this species is the largest extant (still in existence) species of waterfowl in the world.

Hint #4: These animals are large and slow moving, but are often associated with beauty and grace.

Hint #5: They are white.

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If you guessed Trumpeter Swan, then you are correct. The average weight of adult trumpeter swans is between 15 and 30 pounds. These birds often mate for life, and can have a lifespan over 20 years in the wild. Because of their large size and slow flight, trumpeter swans were extensively hunted in the 19th and 20th century, and were extirpated from large parts of their former range. Today, Alaska maintains the largest number of breeding pairs of these birds. Why are they called trumpeter swans? They have a unique and somewhat melodic honk, of course, a bit like a trumpet:


Curious about how trumpeter swans compare in size to bald eagles? Check out this incredible series of photographs captured by photographer Tom Carver in British Columbia of a bald eagle attacking a trumpeter swan in flight!

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