© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Reima Kekäläinen, M., W. & F. von Wright: Pohjolan linnut värikuvin. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus

  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A large white water bird. Young birds have pale grey plumage.
  • Size: Length 140–160 cm (55–62 in), wingspan 220–240 cm (86–94 in), weight 6–11 kg (13–24 lb).
  • Nest: Large nest mounds built on dry shores or in shallow water, made of reeds, other water plants and moss.
  • Breeding: 4–6 eggs laid May–June, incubated only by females for about 40 days. Cygnets can fly within 75–100 days (compare to Mute Swan). Breeding pairs nest away from other swans, usually by water, driving other swans and waterfowl away from their territories, sometimes very aggressively.
  • Distribution: In the 1950s was on the brink of extinction in Finland. Today breeds almost throughout the country, having recovered thanks to protection and conservationists’ campaigning (inspired by the writer Yrjö Kokko). Present population approx. 10,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Some birds winter in Finland where waters remain open. Wintering numbers vary greatly depending on the harshness of the winter weather. Migrates Oct–Nov to Southern Sweden, the Danish Straits or North Sea coasts; returns March–April.
  • Diet: Aquatic plants including pondweeds, sweet-grasses and water horsetails. Today also feeds on fields.
  • Calls: Loud trumpeting call.

The Whooper Swan is a large white water bird. The yellow patch on its beak is wedge-shaped and reaches its nostrils, helping to distinguish it from the slightly smaller Bewick’s Swan. Its tail is short and rounded, not like the wedge-shaped tail of the Mute Swan. Young birds have brownish grey plumage, and gain their white adult plumage through partial moulting during the summer after their birth. Young birds’ beaks lack the yellow colouring (the patches on their beaks are pale, partly pinkish). Whooper Swans’ wing-beats are almost inaudible in flight (unlike Mute Swans’).

The Whooper Swan is Finland’s national bird.

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

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