Since the weather was so-so today, I wasn't planning on going down to Brownsville, MN to photograph Tundra Swans. Plans changed however when there was a break in the clouds and since I was heading in that general direction, I decided to stop by the FWS Observation Deck. Upon my arrival it started to cloud over again (par for the course) but since I was there I decided to stick it out for a while and help answer people's questions about swans.
A few hours later I was just about to leave when I spotted a banded Tundra Swan swimming amongst the other swans. This isn't too unusual. In any given season, I usually see a few banded swans. I report them to the USGS Banding Center and maybe if I am lucky, I get a response about a year later as to the history of the bird.
When I returned home I went through my photographs and wrote down the number of the banded bird. I then went to the USGS web site and dutifully filled out the form. On a whim, I also emailed a USGS employee who works with banding these swans.
Within one hour I got a response from him with some rather interesting information regarding this bird. It was banded on July 26th of this year. It's a male and it was banded on the Buckland River Delta. Where is the Buckland River Delta? It's in NW Alaska.
Usually the swans from this region follow the Pacific flyway. This one headed east over the Rockies and Canada. So far it has traveled over 3,000 miles and will more than likely over-winter along the eastern seaboard somewhere between Maryland and North Carolina. This will make its fall migration path close to 4,000 miles!!!