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Everyone does it at some point and it is no big deal....REALLY! :-)

Any Swan collaring protocol info given by me was for informative purposes 
only.
The swans are not the easiest of birds to ID despite being so big.
They don't always afford a close look, constantly dunking their heads in 
water to eat (takes a lot to fuel those large bodies) or they have their 
heads tucked asleep.
Knowing the collaring protocol can make it just a little easier.

Someone asked about using size only to ID these birds.
As I have learned from others more experienced, size of a bird can be easily 
misjudged out in the field.
If there is a side by side comparison of the birds, then size can be used as 
one criteria to ID a swan.
Birders at the top of the food chain might seem to use size alone of a 
sleeping swan but they are also keying in on other features of the bird as 
well - the head can often been seen of a head tucked bird.
The Tundra will sport a smaller looking, rounded head while the Trumpeter's 
head will be flatter and wedge-shaped. The shape of the bill between the 
eyes could also be seen - pointed border of the Trumpeter's bill vs. rounded 
border of the Tundra.
Jizz can be a factor as well as the different coloration of the juvenile 
birds.
Think most of us more lowly birders still want to see a full view of the 
head, the shape of the bill and the lores before positively IDing a swan.

Sibley discusses the identification problems best and displays excellent 
points in his field guide.

Good birding to all,
Charlene Malone
St. Louis co. 

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