Species On The Move

As climate change impacts habitats around the world, species are on the move, trying to adapt — and survive.


  • Audubon
The Tundra Swan makes its summer home in the Arctic

The Tundra Swan makes its summer home in the Arctic. Photo: Beth Diggs/Audubon Photography Awards

About This Species

Every spring, the Tundra Swan takes an epic journey, migrating from the marshes of the Atlantic coast and the western U.S. to the frozen tundra of the North American Arctic to breed. When it is time to return to its winter home, the Tundra Swan gathers in flocks as large as 100 for the trip back with its young. Both parents tend to their offspring, and they stay together through at least the first winter. The swans feed primarily on seeds and plants, sometimes paddling with their feet to stir up food from below the water's surface. Their snowy white feathers are a stark contrast with their black feet and bills.

Source: Audubon's Climate Report and Field Guide

Conservation Status

The Tundra Swan's population is stable, and is able to sustain a limited hunting season in some areas, according to Audubon. The food sources in some of its wintering areas have been reduced by the destruction of southern wetlands, but it was able to adapt by shifting to feeding on agricultural waste.

The Tundra Swan from John J. Audubon's Birds of America

Source: Audubon's Field Guide

Looking Forward

Although the Tundra Swan's population is currently stable, Audubon's climate model projects that the bird will be impacted by climate change. By 2080, the Tundra Swan could lose 61 percent of its current winter range, according to Audubon. As climate change progresses, the birds will need to shift further inland and northward to find suitable habitat in the winter. The birds' summer range in the Arctic, which is being disproportionately impacted by climate change, will also contract. In the Arctic, the birds can only shift so far northward before they run out of land. It's not known how or if the swans will be able to respond to changes in both of its ranges.

Source: Audubon's Climate Report

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