Extremely rare trumpeter swan hanging out on French Broad

Asheville Citizen Times, John Boyle

The large white bird is easily spotted from the banks of the French Broad, as it’s been floating and walking around in the area around Ledges Park, about 10 miles north of downtown Asheville. The bird apparently has been in the area for about a month.

With a distinctive triangular pattern around its bill and eye, trumpeters are sometimes confused with the much more common tundra swan, which also commonly migrate to eastern North Carolina and take up residence on lakes. But the Elisha Mitchell chapter recently got confirmation from the Trumpeter Swan Society and its expert that the Asheville fowl is indeed a trumpeter.

While similar, trumpeter swans are considerably larger than tundra swans, and they have a distinctive wedge-like bill that is much larger in proportion to the head than a tundra swan, according to the society. Trumpeter swans hold their necks differently at rest, and the black coloring of the bill connects to the eye area.

Also, trumpeters make a very distinctive and loud trumpet call, the source of their name.

As far as how the bird got here, Jay Wherley, an Elisha Mitchell board member, joked, “Birds have wings, and sometimes they just show up.”

The French Broad denizen is likely a juvenile bird, and Wherley said immature members of all species are sometimes unpredictable.

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