Tundra Swans leaving the Chesapeake and heading north to Alaska. (Images: Clandestine Wren Photography)

This month, Tundra Swans are leaving the Chesapeake and heading back to northern Alaska to breed. After spending the winter here, they have a 4,200 mile flight ahead of them.

Tundra Swan T186 already has more than 113,400 flight miles under her wings. Banded on July 27, 2006 in the Colville River Delta, T186 has wintered in the waters around Annapolis every year since. Some Annapolis area residents call her Julia. She was here again in 2020 and now takes off on the return leg of what is at least her fourteenth round-trip!

Migration is a remarkable thing. And it’s all ramping up right now in the Chesapeake watershed. Most swans, ducks and geese will soon be on their way. And scores of other species are heading towards us from the south.

Spring migration is fundamentally optimistic. Since we all need a bit of that, we’ll share more migration magic throughout this spring. Check in next Monday for more!

Tundra Swan migration routes. T186 and other Chesapeake wintering Tundra Swans follow the purple route. (Map: USGS Alaska Science Center via Washington Post)