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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Bewick’s Swan

Cygnus columbianus ssp. bewickii

  • Name also: Tundra Swan, Whistling Swan (American subspecies)
  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A large white water bird. Young birds have pale grey plumage.
  • Size: Length 115–127 cm (45–50 in), wingspan 170–195 cm (66–76 in), weight 7.9–8.4 kg (17.5–18.5 lb).
  • Nest: Large mound of plant matter built on dry land.
  • Breeding: Does not breed in Finland. 3–5 eggs incubated for 29–30 days. Young able to fly within 40–45 days.
  • Distribution: Nests in arctic tundra regions of NE Russia and Siberia (birds seen in Finland are of the subspecies bewickii).
  • Migration: Seen annually in Finland as a passage migrant from late September to December, and in April–May. Birds have occasionally wintered in Finland, but more important wintering areas are the coasts of Southern Sweden, Denmark and the North Sea.
  • Diet: Water plants including pondweeds, eelgrass, sweet-grasses and shore grasses.
  • Calls: Trumpeting calls similar to the calls of Whooper Swans.
  • Endangerment: European red list status Endangered.

Bewick’s swans look very much like Whooper Swans, though they are smaller and have slightly shorter necks. The best way to distinguish them is the smaller size of the yellow patches on their beaks, which do not reach their nostrils and are not wedge-shaped like the patches on Whooper Swans’ beaks. Young Bewick’s swans have greyish brown plumage, like the young of other white swans. They gain their white adult plumage through partial moulting during the summer after their birth. Young birds’ beaks lack the yellow colouring. Bewick’s swans’ trumpeting calls resemble those of Whooper Swans, but are less harsh and more barking.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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