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I spent another 30-40 minutes studying the swans at Eagle Bluffs CA 
(Boone Co.) early yesterday afternoon.  Sure wish someone with a camera 
could get some pix of these birds.

The adult Mute Swans had moved upchannel to the same area where the two 
immatures swans have been for the last few days.  The Mutes stayed close 
together, about 70-80 feet from the other.  They were preening for most 
of the time I watched.  I was able to see three of their four legs.  No 
bands.


Discussion of Immature Swans (1:20p.m.-1:55p.m, 29 Jan. 2006).

The immature swans swam to a shallow water area on the far side of the 
channel, about 25 feet apart and began to preen.  This presented far 
better opportunity for observation than the active feeding behavior I 
had seen before.

The birds were 80 to 90 yards away.  The lighting was excellent--bright 
sunlight at an angle providing good definition of the birds.  Reflection 
and some off the water were the only difficulties.

Swan #1:

I saw both black legs fully as it preened.

It has no collar and no leg bands.

The neck and head are very gray, compared to the nearly white appearance 
of the rest of the body.

The area where the bill crosses the forehead forms a V; it is not gently 
rounded.

The edge of the bill as it comes up the face forms a shallow curve.

The gape line is a coral/orange/red.  The bill is very large and appears 
straight along the upper edge.

When holding the head upright, the neck "kinks" with angles to the 
general form, and appears to bulge where the neck and body meet at the 
water line.

The larger, whiter immature swan is definitely a Trumpeter.

Swan #2:
The smaller, grayer immature swan preened and slept a good part of the 
time with its head tucked, neck stretching across the back.

During the previous observation the left leg was visible fully.  This 
time, the right leg was fully exposed.  Neither black leg has a band.

There is no collar.

There is an angle to the line of the edge of the bill as it goes up the 
face.

The bill has a coral/orange/red gape line.  The shape of the top bill 
was not clearly concave or straight.

The line where the bill crosses the forehead was not as clearly defined 
as that of the other swan.  The feathers at this point were whiter than 
the rest of the head and the area had a "ragged" appearance, perhaps due 
to molting.  The meeting line of bill and forehead appeared more gently 
curved, not forming a V.

When the head was held upright the neck was usually fairly straight, but 
sometimes curved/bent.  This curvature did not form angles.

The smaller, grayer swan is, I still think, a Tundra.

Comparisons:

  I could make no positive judgment as to the roundness/flatness of the 
backs.

In size, the difference between the two was about the same, 
proportionately as between a Snow and a Ross's Goose.

For about 10 minutes a Giant Canada Goose stood between the two, 
providing an excellent point of size comparison.  The smaller, grayer 
swan seemed about the same proportion larger than the Canada as the 
ratio of Snow/Ross's; the larger, whiter swan was far larger than the 
Canada.

The necks are very different in length, relative to one another and 
relative to the attached bird.  That is, Swan #1's neck is longer than 
that of #2 and is longer, proportionately to the whole of #1's body size.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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