Video made by avibirds team

 

Description

The Whooper Swan measures 165 cm in length, 205-243 cm in wingspan, and 8 to 12 kg in weight. There is no sexual dimorphism. Its plumage is pure white. It looks like the Tundra Swan but it is bigger. Unlike the Mute Swan it keeps its neck straight and is a little smaller. The base of its bill is yellow- similar to the Tundra Swan, but the yellow patch of the Whooper Swan reaches the middle of its bill.

It swims well, but it does not dive when searching for food, it only dips its head.

The Whooper Swan is monogamous and lives in pairs which are fixed. Out of the breeding period the birds gather in flocks. They reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 or 3 and their lifespan is 8 years.

Distribution and Habitat

The Whooper Swan is the biggest representative of the Anatidae family, Anseriformes order. This is a pelearctic species with a breeding area in Island, the Scandinavian countries, and northern Russia. It is also found in Asia, Canada, and the US. It winter in almost all areas of Europe.

The Whooper Swan is a migrating and wintering species in Bulgaria- mostly around the big water basins close to the Black Sea coast. It is found in the Vaya lake, Lake Atanasovo, Lake Pomorie, Shabla, and Durankulak.

It inhabits the coastal areas of lakes, dams, big rivers, and it is sometimes found close to saline water basins, shoals, arable lands, and pastures.

The Whooper Swan is a migratory bird and after it starts getting cold at the beginning of the autumn, it migrates in groups to the south. The west group flies to the British islands, the coast of the North Sea and the English Channel to the coast of Brittany. The east group moves to the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, and the population in Scandinavia is the one that moves the least.

Feeding

The Whooper Swan feeds on aquatic and terrestrial plants. Sometimes it eats animal food, small fish that it catches in the waters up to 1-1.5 in depth. In Bulgaria it feeds mainly on winter crops close to water basins that do not freeze and where it can spend the night. The chicks feed on live food, small invertebrates, crustaceans, insects, and mollusks.

Breeding

The Whooper Swan nests on the ground or on piles of dry reed, close to water, and on small islands with aquatic plants. The nest is big, built from dry twigs, moss, and reed. It lays from 3 to 7 eggs which are grey-yellowish in color. Only the female incubates the eggs for about 35 to 40 days. The male is close to the nest and protects it during that period. The chicks hatch during the second half of July and are developed enough to move and feed independently. Both parents take care of the chicks.

Conservation Status

According to IUCN its status is Least Concern, but in Bulgaria according to the Red Data Book it is Endangered.

 

 

 

 

 

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)