Swan Research

Science Center Objects

USGS research on swans in Alaska has focused on pathogens, contaminants, and demographic rates in each of the different breeding areas of Alaska. The vastly different migration patterns of swans in Alaska means that there are multiple factors on the wintering grounds and during migration that may influence population size and trends.

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Tundra Swan

Tundra swan on the Colville River Delta

Tundra swan on the Colville River Delta, Alaska 2013.(Credit: Ryan Askren, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)

Tundra swans, once known as whistling swans, are a common breeding bird along coastal portions of Alaska, but there are distinctly different migratory patterns for birds across Alaska.  Birds that breed on the North Slope of Alaska, winter on the east coast of North America, whereas those nesting in western Alaska winter along the west coast.  Additionally, birds breeding along the Alaska Peninsula are largely non-migratory.













Watch satellite tracking of the migratory pathways of marked birds from these populations below using Argos Wildlife Tracking.

Argos Wildlife Tracking Tundra Swan

Argos Wildlife Tracking of Tundra Swans
(Credit: David Douglas, USGS. Public domain.)

More information with tracking maps and data for each Tundra Swan can be found here 

Autumn and spring migratory pathways for Tundra Swans

Autumn and spring migratory pathways for Arctic Coastal Plain (blue), Bristol Bay Lowland (orange), and Lower Alaska Peninsula (red) populations of Alaska tundra swans from 2008 through 2011 based on locations of birds marked with satellite transmitters.  Publication: Molecular Detection of Hematozoa Infections in Tundra Swans Relative to Migration Patterns and Ecological Conditions at Breeding Grounds https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045789
(Credit: Craig Ely, USGS. Public domain.)