Mute Swan Cygnus olor   [JF Gmelin, 1789]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: MS, MUTSW EURING No: 1520
Number in Britain: 6000 Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (AC2)  Resident Breeder
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 152 cm Wingspan: 223 cm Weight: M: 11.5 kg   F: 9 kg    
Scientific name from: L.: cygnus=the swan (from Gr.: kuknos) and L.: olor=swan
World Distribution: BREEDS: n&c Europe & Asia, WINTERS: south to n Africa, India & se China
Habitat: Lakes, ponds & rivers
Diet: Aquatic vegetation (to 1m deep), also grazes on land; occasionally takes insects, molluscs, small amphibians
TitBit: In England, swans are marked annually (Swan-Upping) for the Queen and others, originally for the table, but in Scotland & Ireland killing them was unlucky as they were thought to embody human souls.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 6000 Pairs in 2009
    Winter: 74 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: GREEN
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Along Rivers
    Also common in: Lakes
    And found in: Estuaries, Ponds
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
European Population Size:
    Summer: 71 to 100 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WBD(II*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Text from the Waterbird Review Series

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 113 x 74 mm Egg Weight: 340.0 g (of which 11 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 193
Clutch Size: 4 - 7 eggs 5.58 ± 1.84 (2 - 12) N = 686
Incubation: 34- 45 days 38.62 ± 5.01 (31.5 - 44.5) N = 686   by the: Female (occ. Male)
Fledging: 120 - 150days as: Precocial, downy
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Nest Record Scheme data
First Clutches Laid: 18 Apr (10 Mar - 23 May)
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.850 ± 0.009       
Juvenile Survival: 0.420 (to age 3 )  
Age at First Breeding: 4 years Typical Lifespan: 10 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 28 years 0 months 20 days (set in 2012)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: M*
Wing Length Sexually dimorphic (male much larger than female)
Male: 618.4 ± 18.7 595 - 650 mm, N =81
Female: 571.4 ± 22.6 530 - 610 mm, N =68
Weight Sexually dimorphic (male much larger than female)
Male: 10.75 ± 1.56 8.20 - 13.40 kg , N =314
Female: 8.54 ± 1.23 6.30 - 10.50 kg , N =233
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Eala Welsh: Alarch Dôf
Danish: Knopsvane Dutch: Knobbelzwaan
Finnish: Kyhmyjoutsen French: Cygne taberculé
German: Höckerschwan Hungarian: Bütykös hattyú
Icelandic: Hnúðsvanur Irish: Eala Bhalbh
Italian: Cigno reale Norwegian: Knoppsvane
Polish: Labedz niemy Portuguese: Cisne-vulgar
Spanish: Cisne real Swedish: Knölsvan

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Birkhead, M. 1986 The mute swan Croom Helm Ltd, London [598.484 BIR]
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
   Ticehurst, N.F. 1957 The Mute Swan in England Cleaver Hume, London [598.484 TIC]
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides
All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)