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Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus

Length: 54 - 64 inches Wingspan: 80 - 108 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Very large size, all white, mostly yellow bill with black end

Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnusThe Whooper Swan is often considered the Eurasian ecological equivalent to North America's Trumpeter Swan.  They once used to breed in eastern Greenland, but are now considered only vagrants in North America.  Records have largely been of overwintering birds, with most sightings in northeastern North America and Alaska.  It is currently unclear whether some sightings in North America are in fact captive escapees, although many are undoubtedly of wild origin.

Habitat: Breeding habitat is usually wetland habitat hear large freshwater lakes, usually with large amounts of herbaceous, emergent vegetation.  They are also found in wetland habitats and large water bodies in migration and in winter, and will also utilize agricultural lands for foraging.

Diet: Predominantly vegetarian, feeding on roots, leaves, and stems of aquatic plants, as well as terrestrial grasses, sedges, roots, and tubers.  On their breeding grounds, fledglings and young birds will also often eat aquatic and terrestrial insects and insect larvae.  Adult Whooper Swans will sometimes supplement their diet with fresh and saltwater mollusks.  In migration and during the winter months, waste grain and other vegetative material from agricultural fields may make up a large portion of the diet.

Nesting: Whooper Swans mate for life.  Both parents will help to construct the nest, typically a large mound of vegetation found near the banks of a water body.  The female alone incubates the eggs.  Both parents will tend to the young after hatching, but the young quickly leave the nest and find their own food.

Song: A very deep, strong honking.

Migration: Whooper Swans breed in subarctic portions of Europe and Asia, and winter in northern Europe and eastern Asia.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Whooper Swan sightings

Similar Species: Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan

Conservation Status: There are no major threats to populations of the Whooper Swan, and the IUCN currently lists it as a species of "Least Concern". 

Further Information: 1) - Whooper Swan

2) BirdLife International - Whooper Swan

3) A Whooper Swan at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, with Comments on North American Reports of the Species - Terry McEneany - U.S. National Park Service

Photo Information: Photo taken by Paul Roberts - Ogmore Estuary, Glamorgan, October 2008 - Photo licensed through Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Whooper Swan - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Whooper Swan Photos (coming soon!!)