There are two native species of swans in North America.
These are the larger Trumpeter Swan (24 to 27 lbs) and the smaller Tundra Swan (16 to 18 lbs). The exotic Mute Swan was introduced to North America from Europe in the late 1800s.
Although the Trumpeter Swan and the Tundra Swan may look similar to one another there are a few differences that will help the beginner to identify these three species of swans.
1) The Trumpeter Swan is larger ... about 1 1/2 times the size of the Tundra Swan.
Tip: The word "trumpeter" (three syllables and nine letters) is bigger than the word "tundra" (two syllables and six letters). Therefore remember that the Trumpeter Swan is bigger than the Tundra Swan by 1 1/2 times (24 to 27 lbs compared to 16 to 18 lbs).
Tip: Remember that the weight (high end) of a Trumpeter Swan is the product of its three syllables times its nine letters (3 x 9 = 27). The Tundra Swan is 2/3 of that weight (18).
2) The Trumpeter Swan's bill and head is "wedge shaped" whereas the Tundra Swan's bill and head is more "curved and round" in shape.
Tip: Think of the Canvasback Duck (a larger duck with a red "wedge shaped" head) compared to the Redhead Duck (a smaller duck with a red "round shaped" head).
Although the Mute Swan is as large as a Trumpeter Swan it has a distinctly orange bill and as the name implies is silent (for the most part). However the Mute Swan will aggressively "hiss" at humans and other waterfowl in the marsh ... a notable "bully" towards other waterfowl.
Note that both the Greater Snow Goose and the Lesser Snow Goose (white phase) have black wing tips while all of the swans have white wing tips.
For more information on swan identification see The Trumpeter Swan Society's web site and "click" on the Swan Identification Brochure tab.
The Tundra Swans arrived at Long Point over a week ago but not in any large numbers ... yet. I was at a wild game dinner last week and I was asked about swan identification so I thought that I would pull up this old thread from last year.