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Flock of swans spotted on Okanagan Lake

A flock of swans were spotted on Okanagan Lake near Peachland, Feb. 3, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Lynda Brown
February 04, 2021 - 3:45 PM

A group of Peachland residents were happy to see a flock of swans on Okanagan Lake yesterday and it turns out the B.C. Interior is part of the birds migration pattern.

Lynda Brown, from Peachland, snapped a shot of swans on the lake yesterday, Feb. 3, and gathered more than 70 positive reactions to the image she posted to Facebook. Brown has lived in Peachland for six years, but has never seen swans in the area before.

Chris Charlesworth, who owns Avocet Tours, an Okanagan bird-watching company, said both trumpeter and tundra swans can be seen on Okanagan Lake and in the Interior in the winter. They tend to fly into the area in mid-October from the north and hang around until March.

Charlesworth said they're an interest to residents in the Okanagan because, “people don’t really associate swans with being around here.”

“Tundra swans, as their name would suggest, nest way up in the Arctic and at higher latitudes. Everything’s frozen up there so they fly south,” he said. Trumpeters also nest in the northern Rocky Mountains and prairies.

There's a subtle difference between the two birds. The tundra swans have a little yellow tear-drop shaped mark on the bill that differentiates them from the trumpeters.

READ MORE: North Okanagan bird count sees numbers fall

More trumpeter swans can be seen in the region, as they have been reintroduced in areas around North America, he said. During his childhood 30 years ago, Charlesworth said more tundra swans were seen.

The trumpeters were once widespread across North America as far east as the Atlantic Ocean but many were wiped out by early European settlers hunting, “for their own use and for the swan skin trade,” according to Hinterland Who’s Who.

The swans will have their chicks in May and June in the north.

To see the swans, a trip to the Maude Roxby Bird Sanctuary in Kelowna is recommended.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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