Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. There are six to seven species of swan in the genus Cygnus; in addition there is another species known as the Coscoroba Swan, although this species is no longer considered related to the true swans. All evidence suggests that the genus Cygnus evolved in Europe or western Eurasia during the Miocene, spreading all over the Northern Hemisphere until the Pliocene. When the southern species branched off is not known. The Mute Swan apparently is closest to the Southern Hemisphere Cygnus (del Hoyo et al., eds, Handbook of the Birds of the World); its habits of carrying the neck curved (not straight) and the wings fluffed (not flush) as well as its bill color and knob indicate that its closest living relative is actually the Black Swan. Given the biogeography and appearance of the subgenus Olor it seems likely that these are of a more recent origin, as evidence shows by their modern ranges (which were mostly uninhabitable during the last ice age) and great similarity between the taxa.
Their feathers are entirely white and their webbed feet are black. Juveniles show a greyish brown plumage. After one year, they get their adult one.
The Whooper Swan can also be mistaken for the Bewick Swan whose he’s very close. There are two ways to differentiate them: the Whooper Swan is much bigger, with a longer neck and a more angulous head, and the beak’s yellow/black layout is different. While the Whooper’s Swan beak looks globally yellow with just a black tip, the Bewick’s Swan’s one is mainly black with a yellow base, sometimes half yellow, half black.
Unlike the Mute Swan, it never raises its wings above its back when it swims and its neck is straighter.
Listen to the sound of Whooper Swan
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||205||cm||wingspan max.:||235||cm|
|size min.:||140||cm||size max.:||160||cm|
|incubation min.:||31||days||incubation max.:||42||days|
|fledging min.:||78||days||fledging max.:||42||days|
Breeds in northern zones, on shallow fresh waters: pools, lakes and rivers in wooded country. Rarely in tundra.
Video Whooper Swan
Cygnus cygnus breeds mainly in Iceland, Fennoscandia and northern Russia, but
winters patchily across much of Europe, which constitutes >50% of its global wintering
range. Its European wintering population is relatively large (>65,000 individuals),
and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in a handful of
countries during 1990-2000, most European wintering populations-including key
ones in Denmark and Germany-were broadly stable or increased, and the species
underwent a large increase overall.
Whooper Swans nest mainly in Eurasian boreal regions. They split in three distinct groups. The most occidental one, with a stable population of about 16 000 individuals, nests in Iceland. The central one nests in Scandinavia and Occidental Russia. It is estimated at 59 000 individuals, regularly increasing. The most oriental group is located in Siberia. Its population, estimated at 17 000 individuals, is probably decreasing. These groups migrate south beginning autumn with the first cold days. The occidental group leaves Iceland for the British Isles, North Sea and Channel coasts, as far as the farthest point of Brittany. The oriental group sets up on Caspian and Black Sea shores. The Scandinavian group is the one that has the shortest migration. During winter, Whooper Swans, like Bewick Swans, spend a great deal of time grazing.