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Whooper Swan

The whooper swan is a large white swan, bigger than a Bewick swan. It has a long thin neck, which it usually holds erect, and has black legs. Its black bill has a large triangular patch of yellow on it.

It is mainly a winter visitor to the UK from Iceland, although a couple of pairs nest in the north. They can migrate many hundreds of miles to their wintering sites. Icelandic breeders over winter in England and Ireland.

They pair for life and their cygnets stay with them all winter, they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years. They prefer to breed in a wetland habitat, the female will lay between 4-7 eggs and they cygnets hatch after about 36 days and are grey brown in colour, they can fly at around 120-150 days old.

Swims with upright neck and never raises its wings. When up-ending it shows off a shorter blunter tail.


It is 140-160cm long and has a wingspan of 205-235cm and weighs between 8-15kgs. It has a more angular head shape they have yellow and black bills and the patterns are unique to each individual bird so can be used to tell them apart. The yellow on a whooper swan's bill forms a pointed 'v' shape on either side. They have a deep honking voice which can sound like an old-fashioned car horn!

Whooper Swan Facts

In Britain: October-March

Habitat: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Northern England and parts of East Anglia

Food: Water plants, grain, potatoes

Breeding: late April, 6 eggs, incubation 35-41 days, young fledge at 4-5 months.

Conservation Status

Least Concern


Also See:


Where to Photograph Swans (Location List)

Mute Swan  

Bewick's Swan

Swan Upping - the ancient annual census of Mute Swans on the River Thames


By: Tracey Park Section: Key:
Page Ref: whooper_swan Topic: Wildlife  Last Updated: 08/2013

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