The other day my parents’ southeast Michigan farm received an uncommon visit by a bevy of tundra swans (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Cygnus columbianus). Fed by the melt of our record-breaking snowfall, the flooded field must have presented a welcome resting area for these migratory waterfowl. Every spring these swans leave their winter ranges near the east and west coasts of the United States and migrate northward. They spend summers in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic, breeding, nesting, and raising their young.
While floating in the shallow floodwater these swans exhibited their typical feeding behavior, known as “dabbling.” They duck their heads under the water and forage for plants, seeds, mollusks, and arthropods beneath the surface:
When the swans first appeared on the scene they really startled and scattered the abundant Canada geese (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Branta canadensis) that were already present. Before long, however, the two species were mingling together and sharing the ample resources the area had to offer.