The BBC webpage this morning had a report of an unusual event observed in the wintering Bewick's Swans at Slimbridge in western England. Two swans showed up with new partners.
I visited Slimbridge in December and saw my first Bewick's Swans. Over 200 of them! The Bewick's Swan is the closest relative of the Tundra Swans currently at RIverlands, St Charles County. These two swans are different subspecies of Cygnus columbianus. However, unlike the local one here, theBewick's have an enormous amount of yellow on the beak. I found the amount of yellow to be quite stunning. The distribution of the yellow is apparently unique to individual birds and it has been used for years at Slimbridge to identify birds, study their longevity, etc. And that is how the "divorce"' was discovered.
Mick Richardson
St Louis County
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Spring Meeting: April 30-May 2. Cape Girardeau, MO