Audubon describes the great mass of this beautiful bird, the largest native bird in North America:
The waters of the Arkansas and its tributaries are annually supplied with Trumpeter Swans, and the largest individual which I have examined measured nearly ten feet in extent and weighed above 38 pounds. The quills, which I used in drawing the feet and claws of many small birds, were so hard, and yet so elastic, that the best steel-pen of the present day might have blushed, if it could, to be compared with them.
The Trumpeter Swan nearly became extinct in the mid-20th century due to hunting. Conservation efforts in the past 30 years have rebounded the populations in three distinct areas, taking the bird out of immediate threat. Efforts to reintroduce the Trumpeter Swan to its original Midwest habitats, however, have largely failed.