Monday, November 28, 2011

Episode 90 (November 28, 2011): Tundra Swan

Click to listen to episode (2:18).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of November 28, 2011.

This week we feature another mystery sound.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds and see if you can guess what kind of winter Virginia visitor is making these calls.  And here’s a hint: the name might suggest looking graceful in a very cold place.


If you guessed Tundra Swans, you’re right!  Tundra Swans, formerly called Whistling Swans, breed in the Arctic but winter along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts.  In Virginia, the birds are found between November and March around the Chesapeake Bay, on the Eastern Shore, and in Back Bay in Virginia Beach.  Tundra Swans are one of three swan species potentially found in Virginia.  Non-native Mute Swans live year-round on park land and golf courses but also in natural habitats, where their aggressive behavior can displace Tundra Swans and other native birds.  And Trumpeter Swans historically migrated through Virginia, but by the 1900s commercial harvests, habitat loss, and pollution had removed this species from most eastern U.S. areas.  Decades of conservation efforts, however, are helping restore Trumpeter Swan populations.  Thanks to Lang Elliott of NatureSound Studio and to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for permission to use this week’s recordings.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Acknowledgments: The sounds of individual Tundra Swan calls (first set of sounds) were taken from “Tundra Swan” on the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott and NatureSound Studio (online at; the sound of a Tundra Swan flock was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sound Clips Web site at, and from The Fish and Wildlife Service recording was previously included in Virginia Water Radio Episode 20 (week of June 7, 2010).

Sources:  Information about Tundra Swans and other swans was taken from Life in the Chesapeake Bay-3rd Edition, by Alice Jane Lippson and Robert L. Lippson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), pp. 161-162; A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America, by Chandler S. Robbins et al. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (DGIF) Fish and Wildlife Information Service Web site at (; the DGIF’s “Tundra Swan Trax” Web page at; Cornell University Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” Web site at; and the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s “Birds of North America Online” Web site at (subscription needed for this Web site).

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Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.