Trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) may be found in Valdez and the neighboring regions of Prince William Sound and Interior Alaska. Swans are in the Family Anatidae, making them relatives to the ducks and geese that may also be found in Valdez and neighboring regions.
Trumpeter Swans. Photo by Gary Minish.
Swans mate for life and nest in marsh areas near water. Swans begin building their nests early in spring and both males and females take care of the nest; the juvenile swans are known as "cygnets". Swans migrate south to winter in Canada or the continental United States. While cygnets may eat insects or other small animals, adults are herbivorous. Swans feed on plants found in wetland areas, such as horsetail. Adults will guard their nest from common predators including bears and river otters.
"Sneak Peak". Photo by Gary Minish
Safety & Etiquette
"Swans are very sensitive to disturbance and may have an unsuccessful breeding season if high levels of human activity occur near their chosen nesting site. In most areas, special habitat protection measures are intended to ensure continued use and production by swans," Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Please give swans plenty of space. Swans are frequently spotted in Valdez just off the road-system, and while it may be tempting to encroach upon them for better viewing and photography opportunities, it's best not to do so. Too many human disturbances at their nesting sites may cause trumpeter swans to be unsuccessful in producing a new generation of cygnets.
"Swans nest in areas before and after Keystone Canyon and may be easily viewed from the highway in small pools along the river," Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Trumpeter swans in Valdez are often seen in Robe Lake or in ponds along the Richardson Highway and Lowe River, before and after entering Keystone Canyon. They have also been spotted in the Valdez Duck Flats. Swans are in the area from spring until fall before their winter migration. Listen for their distinctive trumpeting call.