Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: WS, WHOSW EURING No: 1540
Number in Britain: 11 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern(Winte
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Scarce Breeder, Winter Migrant
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 152 cm Wingspan: 230 cm Weight: M/F: 9.3 kg    
Scientific name from: L.: cygnus=the swan (from Gr.: kuknos)
World Distribution: BREEDS: n Eurasia, WINTERS: south to n Africa, India & se China
Habitat: Lakes, marshes & rivers
Diet: Aquatic vegetation, also grazes on land (especially more recently)
TitBit: Whooper Swans have been recorded migrating at altitudes up to 8,200m where the ambient temperature is -40C.  
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: 11 thousand individuals in 2005
    Summer: 10 to . Pairs in
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: Sutherland (after extinct 1770s) 1910
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Small Breeding Population, Localised Non-breeding Population,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
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(II*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Text from the Waterbird Review Series

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 113 x 73 mm Egg Weight: 331.0 g (of which 12 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 1
Clutch Size: 4 - 5 eggs
Incubation: 31- 42 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 78 - 96days 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: 0.801       
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 4 years Typical Lifespan: 9 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 23 years 3 months 7 days (set in 2003)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: M*
Wing Length Adult: 598.5 ▒ 21.7 Range 561 - 632 mm, N =168
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: 610.0 ▒ 18.1 578 - 639 mm, N =74
Female: 589.3 ▒ 20.0 555 - 619 mm, N =93
Weight Adult: 9.04 ▒ 1.27 Range 6.90 - 11.10 kg , N =174
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: 9.60 ▒ 1.10 7.90 - 11.60 kg , N =75
Female: 8.66 ▒ 1.19 6.80 - 10.60 kg , N =94
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Eala-fhiadhaich Welsh: Alarch y Gogledd
Danish: Sangsvane Dutch: Wilde zwaan
Finnish: Laulujoutsen French: Cygne chanteur
German: Singschwan Hungarian: ╔nekes hatty˙
Icelandic: ┴lft Irish: Eala Ghlˇrach
Italian: Cigno selvatico Norwegian: Sangsvane
Polish: Labedz krzykliwy Portuguese: Cisne-bravo
Spanish: Cisne cantor Swedish: Sňngsvan

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Rees, E. et al. 1997 BWP Update 1:27-35
   Brazil, M. 2003 The whooper swan Poyser, London [598.484 BRA]
   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)