Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus   [Ord, 1815]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: BS, BEWSW EURING No: 1530
Number in Britain: 7000 birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
UK: AMBER
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Vulnerable
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Winter Migrant
Subspecies: bewickii (W), columbianus (V) recorded in Britain (of 2 subsp. in the world)
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Length: 121 cm Wingspan: 196 cm Weight: M: 6.4 kg   F: 5.3 kg    
Scientific name from: L.: cygnus=the swan (from Gr.: kuknos) and after the Columbia river (western US)
World Distribution: BREEDS: tundra in n Eurasia & n North America, WINTERS: south to c Europe & Japan, s Canada & US
Habitat: Lakes, ponds & rivers, also estuaries on migration
Diet: Plant material (e.g. tubers, shoots, leaves) in water or flooded pasture
TitBit: One Bewick's Swan was counted to have 25,216 feathers, its dense feathering providing excellent insulation, and the pattern of yellow on the bill can be used to identify individuals.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 7000 individuals in 2005
    First Record: 1829 [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern, Localised Non-breeding Population, Important Non-breeding Population
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern: bewickii AMBER (European Concern)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: Unavailable
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I), WBD(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA, NERC (41)
Survey Results: Text from the Waterbird Review Series

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 107 x 68 mm Egg Weight: 280.0 g (of which 12 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 3 - 5 eggs
Incubation: 29- 30 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 40 - 45days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.822       
Juvenile Survival: 0.660 (to age 2 )  
Age at First Breeding: 4 years Typical Lifespan: 9 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 20 years 3 months 9 days (set in 1989)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries

Biometrics

Ring Size: M*
Wing Length Adult: 508.7 ± 20.6 Range 483 - 549 mm, N =53
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: 518.7 ± 21.0 485 - 549 mm, N =22
Female: 497.3 ± 13.8 473 - 518 mm, N =24
Weight Adult: 5.89 ± 0.78 Range 4.60 - 7.40 kg , N =56
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: 6.27 ± 0.83 5.00 - 7.40 kg , N =22
Female: 5.67 ± 0.63 4.60 - 6.40 kg , N =24
Source:
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Tundra/Whistling Swan
Gaelic: Eala-bheag Welsh: Alarch Bewick
Danish: Pibesvane Dutch: Kleine zwaan
Finnish: Pikkujoutsen French: Cygne siffleur
German: Zwergschwan Hungarian: Kis hattyú
Icelandic: Dvergsvanur Irish: Eala Bewick
Italian: Cigno minore Norwegian: Dvergsvane
Polish: Labedz czarnodzioby Portuguese: Cisne-pequeno
Spanish: Cisne silbón Swedish: Mindre sĺngsvan

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Rees, E. 2006 Bewick's Swan Poyser, London [598.484 REE]
   Rees, E. et al. 1997 BWP Update 1:63-74
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
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)