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

Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A large white water bird. Young birds have pale brownish grey plumage.
  • Size: Length 140–160 cm (55–62 in), wingspan 200–240 cm (78–94 in), weight 9–13 kg (20–29 lb).
  • Nest: Large nest mound made of reeds (sometimes seaweed) on land or floating among reeds.
  • Breeding: 3–10 eggs (average 5.8) laid from late April, incubated for 35–38 days. Young only able to fly at the age of 4.5 months (135 days).
  • Distribution: Commonest in coastal regions of Western and Southwestern Finland. Nests near water. First nested in Finland only in 1934, in Åland. The species’ Finnish population has increased until recent years, and currently numbers some 6,000–8,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Winters in Finland, but according to ice conditions many birds migrate to more southerly parts of the Baltic Sea, as far away as Danish waters. Migrants return in March–April.
  • Diet: Aquatic and shore plants.
  • Calls: Seldom makes any calls.

Mute Swans are large white water birds. Their tails are quite long and wedge-shaped, distinguishing them from other white swans found in Finland. Adult Mute Swans have distinctive knobbly beaks coloured orange and black. The markings on the beaks of Whooper and Bewick’s Swans are yellow and black. Mute Swans swim with their thick necks arched and their wings slightly raised. Both sexes have similar appearance, but males have larger bumps on their beaks. Cygnets are browner or greyer than the young of other white swan species. Their beaks are pinkish and black rather than orange. They gain their white adult plumage through partial moulting during the summer after their birth. As their name suggests, Mute Swans largely remain silent, though they can be heard making hissing calls. In flight their wing-beats can be heard loud and clear, which is another distinguishing feature of the species, since Whooper Swans’ wing-beats are much quieter.

The Mute Swan is Finland’s heaviest bird. Their eggs are also the largest of any Finnish bird, at around 15 cm in length. Their spread into more northerly regions of Finland has been slowed by the fact that young birds are not able to fly for several months.

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

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