The Seven Species of Swans

English Mute Swans


 Mute Swans originated in Europe and Asia and are the most common captive swans found on lakes and ponds in private settings such as resorts, zoos, parks and estates. Mute Swans are not really mute. They  are less vocal than other species of swans due to the anatomy of their  trachea, which goes straight into the lungs instead of being embedded in  the sternum. 

The English Mute and the Polish Mute Swans look very similar. The difference is in the coloring of their bills and feet. The English Mute have reddish orange bills and jet black feet. The Polish Mute is a pure white version of the Mute Swan. They have bright orange bills and light buff-colored/ grayish colored feet. 

Mute Swans produce a clutch of young once a year. Mute Swans typically have between 5-10 eggs and typical brood sizes are from 1-9 cygnets. Incubation is between 30-40 days.

Captive male Mute Swans typically weigh between 24-30 pounds with the females weighing approximately 17-23 pounds. Mute Swans’ wingspans average 78 inches.

Australian Black Swans


 Australian Black Swans originated in the Botany Bay and Perth areas of Australia. The black swans are typically more aggressive than other swan species especially during mating and nesting seasons. This species is highly aggressive and will actively seek out predators or intruders. 

The Black Swan is black in color with white tips on its wings. The bird’s red bill has a pale band at the tip. The male black swan’s red eyes will turn white during mating season.

Captive male Black Swans typically weigh between 13-14 pounds with the females weighing approximately 11-12 pounds. Black Swans’ wingspans average 77 inches.

Black Swans typically have between 1-9 eggs. Typical brood sizes are 1-5 cygnets. Incubation is approximately 36 days. Black Swans produce two clutches of young a year.

Whooper Swans


 The Whooper Swan is the national bird of Finland. This Old World swan is a very rare visitor to Alaska and Greenland. The swan winters in Great Britain, northern Europe, Asia Minor, northern India, China, Japan and Korea. The Whooper Swan is a white swan with a yellow bill. Average wingspan is 72 inches. 

Nesting begins as soon as the ice melts in early March or April. Nests are built on small islets surrounded by water. Clutch size for a Whooper Swan is about 4-6 white-colored eggs. Incubation lasts about 34-36 days. 

Whooper Swans are social birds that are extremely noisy. Whoopers  like cold weather but have been successfully raised and bred in the  hot, humid climate of the southeastern United States. 

North American Trumpeter Swans


 The Trumpeter Swan is indigenous to North America. The Trumpeter is know for its unique “trumpeting” call. The bird is pure white with a jet-black bill with a red border on the lower mandible. 

Average wingspan is 70-84 inches. These birds are the largest waterfowl in the United States and the largest swan species. Males can weigh up to 35 pounds. 

Nesting begins in late March through early May. The pen will lay from 3-9 eggs. Incubation is done only by the pen and lasts for about 33-35 days. 

North American Tundra Swans


 The Tundra Swan has been called the “American or Whistling” Swan and is indigenous to North America. It  gets its name from the “whistling” sound made by the slow, powerful  beating of its wings in flight. The Tundra Swan has a black bill with a  yellow lore below the eye. Like the Trumpeter, the Tundra Swan may have a red lower mandible. Tundras can be distinguished from Trumpeter Swans by their higher pitched, more soft, and melodious calls. 

The Tundra Swan is a much smaller bird. Average wingspan is 62 inches with a body length of 45 inches. Nesting begins in late May or early June. Clutch size is about 4-6 eggs and the egss are cream-colored. Only the pen incubates the eggs and the incubation lasts about 32 days. 

These swans like cold weather and live on the tundra in North American, hence their name. However, this species has been successfully raised and bred in the hot, humid climate of the southeastern United States. 

Bewick Swans: (Eurasian Sub-species of the North American Tundra Swans)


 The Eurasian sub-species of the Tundra Swans, the Bewick Swans, are found in Russia and migrate to parts of Japan. The Bewick Swan is a close relative to the Tundra Swan and has not been recognized as a separate, distinct species of swans. 

This swan has a higher, straighter, yellow and black bill, which is more angular near the base and has a longer yellow patch . The pattern of black and yellow bills of the Bewick and Whooper Swans’ are unique to each bird and can be easily misidentified. 

Average body length is 48 inches long with a 64 inch wingspan. The Bewick usually has a clutch of 3-4, off-white colored eggs. The clutch size is the smallest of all swan species. Incubation lasts about 30 days. 

South American Black-Necked Swans


 The South American Black-Necked Swan is the most delicate of the swan species and the most expensive. These birds must be protected from extreme cold climates. 

The  plumage on this species feature a white body and wings with a black  neck and very distinctive and noticeable pink-colored feet. The birds have a gray bill with a bright red lobe on the base of the bill. 

The  legs of this species are set farther back than other swan species,  which makes exiting the water for these birds rather difficult. For  this reason, these swans stay in the water for greater periods of time  and prefer larger bodies of water for their food supply. 

In  the United States, the Black-Necked Swans can begin laying eggs in late  January, so care must be taken that cold weather does not freeze the  eggs. Nests are built in thick vegetation near the water. Their breeding season begins in July and can extend through November. This species of swans does not like other swans around during breeding season. Otherwise, they are socially compatible with other waterfowl. 

Clutch sizes range from 3 to 7 eggs and are incubated by only the pen for about 36 days. Black-Necks also have a greater propensity to carry their young on their back than other swans. 

South American Coscoroba Swans



The Coscoroba Swan looks like a small goose or duck. The birds have pure white feathers with a coral-colored beak and coral-colored legs. Average wing span is 37 inches with a body length of 35 inches.  

The Coscoroba Swan species is now a protected species under the Washington Convention and in the Chilean Red Book. 

Nesting occurs in the late spring. Average clutch size is 4-7 eggs. Incubation of the eggs is done by the pen and lasts about 35 days.  Rain seems to be an important factor determining clutch sizes.