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Tundra swan travelled far before death

A tundra swan that died last week was part of an Alaskan study on migration habits.

Carol Kelly, executive director of the Medicine River Wildlife Centre, said the swan died Wednesday, shortly after arriving at the rehabilitation centre.

It was very weak after being found near Pine Lake.

Dave Prescott, senior species-at-risk biologist with Alberta Fish and Wildlife in Red Deer, said the swan had a band on it, so he was asked to check where its origins were.

He learned through a website that tundra swans, which are not an endangered species, were marked in western and northern Alaska in the summers of 2006 to 2010. A total of 1,873 birds were banded during that period.

The birds received coded neck bands as part of an effort to learn more about the timing of migration and movements of swans relative to breeding areas. Neck bands have a four-digit code that begins with a letter. Codes are read from bottom to top.

Prescott received an email from Alaska Science Center in Anchorage showing that the bird was banded as an adult male on July 18, 2010, near King Salmon on the northern Alaska Peninsula.

It was previously observed in the Sacramento Valley of California in November and December 2010.

Prescott said that the story of this bird should get people thinking about the bands they may see on birds.

“It might get people looking closer, and if the birds have bands, we’ll trace the information,” he said.



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