Male Bewicks Swan

Bewick’s Swan

Scientific name: Cygnus columbianus bewickii

Did you know: Each Bewick’s Swan displays a unique bill pattern, as distinct as human fingerprints, making individual identification possible!

What Do Bewick’s Swans Look Like? (how to identify them)

Bewick’s Swans charm observers with their elegant, compact bodies and slender necks. Adults showcase a pristine white plumage contrasted sharply by black beaks and legs. 

One distinguishing feature is the males’ small black feather patch under the wings during breeding season—an absent trait in females and juveniles. 

Typically smaller than the Whooper Swan, they possess a wingspan of 170-195 cm, and their heads appear more rounded with a delicate build.

Differences Between Male And Female Bewick’s Swans

Male Bewick’s Swans can be spotted by the unique black plumage displayed under their wings, known as breeding plumage. 

Females and young swans, on the other hand, lack this characteristic. Males generally have a slightly larger and more robust form compared to the more slender females.

What Do Bewick’s Swans Eat?

In the wild, Bewick’s Swans have a diet that includes potatoes, grains, aquatic plants, and grass. 

During their stay in the UK, they often forage in fields, picking remnants of harvested crops, which provides vital nourishment through the winter months.

Where Do Bewick’s Swans Live? (inc. migration info)

Bewick’s Swans breed in the Arctic reaches of Siberia and migrate to the UK and Western Europe for the winter. Key wintering sites include the Eastern England coasts and the Severn Estuary. 

This migratory journey highlights their incredible endurance, with the swans often returning north as spring arrives.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Bewick’s Swans)

The calls of Bewick’s Swans are less sonorous than those of larger swans but are melodious with a series of mellow trumpet-like sounds. 

During migration, their calls fill the sky, creating a symphony that heralds their arrival.

Fun Bewick’s Swans Facts (kid friendly)

  • Despite their graceful appearance, Bewick’s Swans can weigh between 4.5 and 6 kg – that’s about as heavy as a large domestic cat!
  • With wingspans up to 2 metres, they can fly thousands of miles during their migrations.
  • Bewick’s Swans are monogamous, sticking with one partner, often for life.
  • Each swan has a unique bill pattern, used by scientists to identify individual birds, much like a human fingerprint.
  • These swans can live up to 9 years in the wild, experiencing many long migrations in their lifetime.
  • In the UK, Bewick’s Swans are protected by law, ensuring they are safe during their winter visits.
  • Major flocks can be seen at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Slimbridge, where ongoing research tracks the lives of these birds.

Bewick’s Swan Video

Facts About The Bewick’s Swan

Diet: They eat potatoes, grain, aquatic plants and grass.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 115 - 130cm
Wingspan: 170 - 195cm
Weight: 4.5 - 6kg
Scientific Name: Cygnus columbianus bewickii

The Bewick’s Swan Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • October
  • November
  • December

Bewick’s Swan Images

Male Bewick’s Swan Male
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