Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Key facts

Scientific name: Cygnus cygnus

Status: Winter visitor and occasional breeder

Breeding birds: 23 pairs

Wintering birds: 11,000

Conservation status: Amber

Length: 140 – 160 cm

Wingspan: 205 – 235 cm

Weight: 9 – 11 kg


Adult whooper swans have white plumage overall. They sometime have a reddish-brown wash on their heads and necks when the waters from which they feed are rich with iron. They have pale yellow bills with black triangular tips and cutting edges, dark brown eyes and black webbed feet. Male and female whooper swans look similar although the female is slightly smaller.

Juvenile whooper swans are grey-brown with dark heads and necks. They have pink bills and their legs and feet are pinky-grey. They reach adult white plumage before their second winter.


Whooper swans nest alone. Both males and females build the nests near water which are large mounds constructed from plant matter such as reeds, moss and lichen.

Whooper swans lay 4-5 off-white eggs which are incubated by the female for 35-40 days while the male guards the nest. Chicks fledge at 3 months and can fly after another 1-2 months. 


Whooper swans eat mainly plant matter including aquatic plants, freshwater roots, grass, acorns, grains and potatoes. They will occasionally eat mussels.

Whooper Swan

Where to see them

Whooper swans can be found in estuaries and wetlands in Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and East Anglia.


Lars Edenius/xeno-canto

Did you know?

The whooper swan is the national bird of Finland and features on the Finnish 1 euro coin.

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