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Mute Swan

Cygnus olor ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A native of northern and central Eurasia, the Mute Swan was introduced into North America to grace the ponds of parks and estates. Escaped individuals have established breeding populations in several areas, where their aggressive behavior threatens native waterfowl.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
50–59.8 in
127–152 cm
Wingspan
81.9–93.7 in
208–238 cm
Weight
194–504.4 oz
5500–14300 g
Other Names
  • Cygne tuberculé (French)
  • Cisne vulgar (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Downy young Mute Swans (called cygnets) come in two color morphs: a gray form and a white form. The gray (or "Royal") chicks start off with gray down and grow in gray-brown and white feathers, giving them a mottled look. White (or "Polish") chicks have all white down and juvenal feathers. Adults of the white morph may have pink or gray legs and feet instead of black, but otherwise the adults look alike.
  • The Mute Swan is reported to mate for life. However, changing of mates does occur infrequently, and swans will remate if their partner dies. If a male loses his mate and pairs with a young female, she joins him on his territory. If he mates with an older female, they go to hers. If a female loses her mate, she remates quickly and usually chooses a younger male.
  • The black knob at the base of the male Mute Swan's bill swells during the breeding season and becomes noticeably larger than the female's. The rest of the year the difference between the sexes is not obvious.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Prefers shallow coastal ponds, estuaries, ponds, bogs, and streams flowing into lakes.

Food


Plants

Aquatic plants and some aquatic animals.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–11 eggs
Egg Description
Blue-green when laid, turn white, then brown with staining.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down and eyes open. Leaves nest within 24 hours of hatching and has the ability to swim and feed.
Nest Description

Nest an open bowl in a large mound of aquatic vegetation, grasses, and rushes, lined with softer vegetation and a little down. Usually placed on mound on bank, island, or reed bed.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Dabbler

Tips-up to reach submerged aquatic vegetation.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

As an introduced species it is of concern because of its effects on native wildlife. Its aggressive nature can disrupt the nesting of native waterfowl. It is protected in some states, but not others. Some states are attempting to control Mute Swan numbers.

Credits

    1. Ciaranca, M. A., C. C. Allin, and G. S. Jones. 1997. Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). In The Birds of North America, No. 273 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
    2. Cramp, S., and K. E. L. Simmons (eds.) 1977. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. I. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Range Map Help

Mute Swan Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings