February 10, 2017
Congratulations to Linda Roy Walls, our latest BirdSpotter People’s Choice Award winner. Linda’s fun photo of a group of Tundra Swans dabbling for food, delighted our voters. “The Tundra Swans stopover at the Galestown Millpond, Maryland, for about a month on their migration north. Every night about 800 Tundra Swans descend on the pond. In the mornings before they ascend back into the sky, they tip upside down to tug at underwater plants (for food) along the pond border. I was fortunate to get a shot of five swans tipping simultaneously,” wrote Linda.
The swans Linda photographed are likely winter residents from the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Dabbling for plants is a nice change in their diet. Tundra Swans wintering in Chesapeake Bay feed almost exclusively on clams that they dislodge from the mud. But it can be challenging to enjoy a peaceful meal: often the swan has to fend off a Ring-billed, Herring, or Greater Black-backed gull that swoops in to grab a clam from the swan’s bill—a successful tactic in about half of these “kleptoparasitic” encounters.
Monday, February 13, is the first day to submit a photo to the BirdSpotter category: The Not-so-usual Suspects. Show us uncommon visitors to your backyard. Photographers can choose to a receive a free set of illustrated note cards just for participating (limit one card set per person, U.S. mailing addresses only). Biweekly People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice winners receive prizes from the Cornell Lab and our sponsor, Wild Birds Unlimited. Anyone can participate by entering a photo and voting for their favorites! Find out more about the BirdSpotter contest.