The Trumpeter Swan is the tallest of the world's eight swan species. They range in size from 138 to 158 cm (54 to 61 in.). Males are slightly larger than females. With a wingspan of up to 2.5 m (8 ft.), they are powerful fliers and capable of speeds up to 80 km/h (50 MPH) in flight.
Once mated, Trumpeters usually remain together for life. They often build their nests on the tops of muskrat lodges.
Trumpeter Swans are found only in North America. They were once common in their breeding range, but by the early 1900s the species was nearly extinct. The cause can be traced to human activities: Trumpeter Swans were hunted extensively for food and feathers. The decline in their numbers sharpened when a market developed in European settlements for its skin, feathers and down. The trend continued with the gradual loss of nesting, feeding and wintering habitats, especially in the United States, to expanded land use.
Trumpeter Swans are now legally protected in Canada and the United States, and provided with sanctuaries. Also, their survival is assisted by habitat restoration and controlled relocation of populations. As a result, the number of Trumpeter Swans has slowly increased, and it now relatively common again. In 2005, the global population was estimated at 35 000 individuals.
Their breeding range is found in pockets of north, west and central North America. They winter in coastal lakes and rivers from southern Alaska and western British Columbia southward into the United States, to Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming, but also as far east as the state of New York.