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“Whooper
Scientific name: Cygnus cygnus
Status: Winter visitor and occasional breeder
Breeding pairs: 23
Wintering birds: 11,000
Conservation status: Amber
Length: 140-160 cm
Wingspan: 205-235 cm
Weight: 9,000-11,000 g

Description: Adult whooper swans have white plumage overall. They sometime have a reddish-brown wash on their heads and necks when the waters from which they feed are rich with iron. They have pale yellow bills with black triangular tips and cutting edges, dark brown eyes and black webbed feet. Male and female whooper swans look similar although the female is slightly smaller.

Juvenile whooper swans are grey-brown with dark heads and necks. They have pink bills and their legs and feet are pinky-grey. They reach adult white plumage before their second winter.

Nesting: Whooper swans nest alone. Both males and females build the nests near water which are large mounds constructed from plant matter such as reeds, moss and lichen.

Whooper swans lay 4-5 off-white eggs which are incubated by the female for 35-40 days while the male guards the nest. Chicks fledge at 3 months and can fly after another 1-2 months. Feeding: Whooper swans eat mainly plant matter including aquatic plants, freshwater roots, grass, acorns, grains and potatoes. They will occasionally eat mussels.

Where to see them: Whooper swans can be found in estuaries and wetlands in Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and East Anglia.
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Credit: Lars Edenius

Did you know? The whooper swan is the national bird of Finland and features on the Finnish 1 euro coin.


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