The Mute Swan is a very large, completely white bird with a long neck held in an S-curve. The bill is orange with a black knob at its base. Juveniles are gray or white, with the white morph more common.
Mute Swans graze while walking on land, and feed on submergent, aquatic vegetation by reaching under the water with their long necks. They also adapt to feeding by humans. Highly territorial, males will aggressively defend their large territories against their own and other species, including humans, displaying, hissing, and attacking when provoked.
A native of Eurasia, the adaptable Mute Swan inhabits fresh- and saltwater ponds, coastal lagoons, and bays. It is often found in close association with people, but occasionally lives in remote areas as well.
This swan is breeding in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia. It has been introduced in North America, South Africa and Australia. Four populations inhabit the European Union. The sedentary Irish populations can be estimated at 10000 individuals and its trends are unknown. The British and Scottish population is also sedentary. It amounts to 25000 individuals, but is much fluctuating. The population of north-western continental Europe is partially sedentary, partially migrating or nomadic. It is increasing, and can currently be estimated at 210000 individuals. The birds visiting southern Italy and Greece belong to the population of the Black Sea region and eastern Mediterranean, which is also increasing and can be estimated at about 45000 individuals
Mute Swans eat aquatic plant material, grasses, and waste grain. They also eat insects, snails, and other small aquatic creatures.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 600,000-620,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Mute Swans usually form pairs at the age of two, but do not start breeding until their third or fourth year. The male gathers nesting material, and the female builds a shallow mound on a shoreline. The nest is large, five to six feet in diameter, and made of grasses and reeds with a shallow depression. The female performs most of the incubation of the four to six eggs, although the male will step in and allow the female to take breaks for foraging. Incubation lasts for about 36 days, and both adults tend the young, which sometimes ride on their parents’ backs. The young begin to fly at 4 to 5 months but usually remain with the parents through the first winter.
Truly wild populations mainly migratory, particularly where displaced by cold weather; spend the winter in more temperate zones. European and feral populations mostly sedentary, males defending territory for most of year. Recorded as vagrant in Pakistan.
- spanwidth min.: 200 cm
- spanwidth max.: 240 cm
- size min.: 140 cm
- size max.: 160 cm
- incubation min.: 35 days
- incubation max.: 41 days
- fledging min.: 120 days
- fledging max.: 150 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 4
- eggs max.: 9
- Conservation Status