Birds of 2012: A Tundra Swan Rejoices (January)

As 2012 draws to a close, we’re looking back on some of International Bird Rescue’s most memorable bird patients of the year. Today, we re-visit the treatment and release of a beautiful Tundra Swan in January.

Around 100,000 Tundra Swans migrate along the Pacific Flyway from their Arctic breeding grounds each year to spend the winter in California. On December 16, 2011 one such Swan was found alone on the road in Meridian, north of Sacramento, and brought to International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay Area center for care.

Hatched just last year, this much-too-thin Tundra Swan was examined upon intake, issued radiographs and found to have a calloused fracture on her right ulna.

At the time, International Bird Rescue was also caring for a lone Mute Swan, and moved them into an aviary together. The two got along beautifully. We kept the young Tundra Swan at the center for two weeks to make sure that her fracture site was stable, and she gained a healthy 600 grams.

As she approached readiness for release, International Bird Rescue contacted the staff at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge to find out if they had seen any flocks of Tundra Swans on refuge lands. While none had been spotted there, the biologist was able to direct us to another location, County Road 162 in Willows; he had seen a big flock of this species that morning.

We followed this promising lead, and at the time of the release were able to audibly confirm the close proximity of other Tundra Swans through the use of one of our wonderful volunteer’s iPhone applications, called iBird.

To watch this release video is to share in the Tundra Swan’s joy when she hears the others and resolutely flies off to chase her second chance.