Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Scientific name: Cygnus cygnus

Did you know: Whooper swans undertake a breathtaking non-stop flight from Scotland to Iceland every spring, reaching incredible altitudes; a pilot once spotted a flock at 8,000 metres!

What Do Whooper Swans Look Like? (how to identify them)

Whooper Swans are majestic birds, easily recognised by their large size and pure white feathers. They stand out with a long, straight neck and striking black legs. Their black bill is adorned with a distinctive large, triangular yellow patch, making them unmistakable. 

These swans are larger than the Bewick’s Swan and hold a regal posture with their necks usually held erect.

Differences Between Male and Female Whooper Swans

Male and female Whooper Swans share a similar elegant appearance, but males are generally larger. On average, males weigh between 9.8 to 11.4 kilograms and have a slightly longer wingspan, whereas females typically weigh around 8.2 to 9.2 kilograms. 

Despite these size differences, both sexes exhibit the same stunning white plumage and yellow-and-black beak, making them a spectacular sight.

What Do Whooper Swans Eat?

Whooper Swans have a diet that mainly consists of aquatic plants, complemented by grass, grain, and even potatoes. 

They often feed in fields during the day, enjoying crops like leftover potatoes and grain, before retreating to open water to roost.

Where Do Whooper Swans Live? (inc. migration info)

The Whooper Swan, a winter visitor from Iceland, finds solace in the UK’s estuaries and wetlands. These areas are crucial for their migration and winter roosts. While they predominantly nest in Iceland, a few pairs choose the north of the UK for breeding. 

Their migration journey is a remarkable feat, with non-stop flights from Scotland to Iceland.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Whooper Swans)

Whooper Swans are not just visually striking but also audibly distinctive. Their calls are deep and resonant, a series of strident kloo-kloo-kloo, often in groups of three or four. These calls are more resonant and lower-pitched compared to Bewick’s Swans, adding to the Whooper Swan’s unique character.

Fun Whooper Swan Facts (kid friendly)

  • Whooper Swans can fly non-stop from Scotland to Iceland, covering vast distances each spring.
  • They are among the heaviest flying birds, with some males weighing up to 15.5 kg!
  • Whooper Swans are known for their lifetime partnerships; they pair for life.
  • Their cygnets (baby swans) stay with them all winter and can fly at 120 to 150 days old.
  • Whooper Swans use special movements like head bobs and wing flaps to communicate within their flock.

Facts About The Whooper Swan

Diet: Aquatic plants, grass, grain, potatoes.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 140-160cm
Wingspan: 205-235cm
Weight: 9-11 kg
Scientific Name: Cygnus cygnus

The Whooper Swan Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

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

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