Brush up on waterfowl identification

Trumpeter Swans at Telaquana River. NPS Photo / J. Mills. 2014.
Trumpeter Swans at the Telaquana River. This species is threatened and protected, and hunters need to brush up on their bird identification so they don't make a costly mistake. (NPS Photo / J. Mills. 2014.) rOriginal Caption:Trumpeter Swans at Telaquana River. NPS Photo / J. Mills. 2014.

AKRON, Ohio — As the state’s duck and goose seasons begin, hunters are encouraged to familiarize themselves with waterfowl identification before heading out, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Ohio waterfowl hunters frequently encounter a variety of species of birds when in the field and marsh, and some species of ducks, geese and swans may look similar. The ODNR Division of Wildlife reminds hunters that it is important to identify birds before pulling the trigger.

Some species, like the state-threatened trumpeter swans and occasionally migrating tundra swans, are protected and may be encountered. Although waterfowl hunters in northeast Ohio rarely encounter snow geese, hunters should still be able to distinguish between swans and snow geese.

With proper species identification and attention, there should be little confusion between the species.

For more information about waterfowl hunting in Ohio visit

Here are some identifying characteristics of swans versus geese:

  • Trumpeter swan (threatened and protected species). Mature birds: pure-white plumage (sometime stained heads)/young birds: more gray. Long necks relative to the body size.  Length: 4-5 feet, wingspan: 7 feet, weight: 17-28 lbs.
  • Tundra swan (protected species). Mature birds: pure-white plumage/young birds: more gray. Long necks relative to the body size. Length: 4.5 feet, wingspan: 5.5 feet, weight: 8-23 lbs.
  • Canada goose (legal game species). Black-necked plumage with chin strap, black head, tan breast, brown back, long necks. Length: 2.5-3.5 feet, wingspan: 4-5.5 feet, weight: 6.5-20 lbs.
  • Snow goose (legal game species). White with black wing tips, short necks relative to the body size. Length: 2.5 feet, wingspan: 4.5 feet, weight 3.5-7 lbs

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