Whooper swan

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Whooper swan
Calls recorded in County Cork, Ireland
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
C. cygnus
Binomial name
Cygnus cygnus
Range of C. cygnus
  Breeding range
  Year-round range
  Wintering range
  • Anas cygnus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Cygnus ferus

The whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), is a large white bird which lives in Europe and Asia. It is the Eurasian counterpart of the North American trumpeter swan. Francis Willughby and John Ray's Ornithology of 1676 called this swan "the Elk, Hooper, or wild Swan".[2]

Description[change | change source]

Young whooper swan.
Legs and feet are black.
Cygnus cygnus

An adult whooper swan weighs 9-11 kg. It is 140-160 cm long (including neck and head) and it has a wingspan of 205-235 cm. Young swans are grey-brown. They have a pink and black beak.[3] The young get pale grey in end of their first summer. They get the white adult colour before their second winter. Male and female swans look otherwise similar, but the males are larger.[4]

The whooper swan, Bewick's swan and mute swan look quite similar, but the details are different. Whooper swan is clearly larger than Bewick's swan. When it lands it water or takes off it slides longer distances.[4]

Mute swan, whooper swan, bewick swan
Whooper swan bill
Whooper swan straight neck and short tail.
Mute swan: hump and orange bill
Mute swan: curved neck and long tail.
Bewick swan bill
Bevick swan short neck and horizntal tail.

Behaviour[change | change source]

Whooper swans eat mainly plants growing in water: leaves, stems and roots. During the winter they also eat grain and vegetables from the fields. Young birds often eat insects.[5]

The nest is a large pile of plant matter built on dry ground or on small islands near lakeshore. The same nest mound may be used over many years although it is often repaired and new material is added.[5]

Distribution[change | change source]

Whooper swans spends their summer in Northern Europe and Asia. For winter they migrate to coasts where sea does not freeze.[3]

In year 2006 it was estimated, that there are more than 180,000 whooper swans in the world. Out of these, 10,000-100,000 pairs breed in Russia. Between one thousand and ten thousand birds also spend their winter there.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. BirdLife International (2012). "Cygnus cygnus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. Willughby, Francis (1676). Ornithologiae libri tres [Ornithology, Book Three] (in Latin). London: John Martyn.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) Archived 2013-06-17 at the Wayback Machine ARKive
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Whooper Swan[permanent dead link] The Swan Sanctuary
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus Archived 2013-11-10 at the Wayback Machine BirdLife International