Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)


French: Cygne tuberculé German: Höckerschwan Spanish: Cisne vulgar

Anas Olor

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

“Russia, Sibiria, Persico etiam littore maris Caspii”


Despite its all-white plumage, apparently linked more closely to Southern Hemisphere species (C. melancoryphus, C. atratus) than to N swans. Hybridization with C. atratus recorded in captivity. Monotypic.


British Is, C & N Europe E through C Asia to NC & NE China and Mongolia; winters in S of range, reaching Middle East, and rarely N Africa and Pakistan.

Feral populations in North America, N Japan, Morocco, South Africa, SW & E Australia and New Zealand.

Descriptive notes

125–160 cm; 6600–15,000 g; wingspan 200–240 cm. Female averages smaller and has less prominent knob on bill; knob size is also consistently greater for... read more


Utters varied grunting and snorting notes, principally during courtship, whereas hisses are mainly... read more


Frequently found in a variety of lowland freshwater marshes, lagoons, slow-flowing rivers, etc.,... read more

Food and feeding

Primarily leafy parts of aquatic vegetation and grain; minor quantities of grasses (once ripe bramble Rubus fruticosus berries),... read more


During the local spring, e.g. lays eggs in mid (exceptionally early) Mar in England, but not until late Apr in NE China and early May in NE... read more


Truly wild populations mainly migratory, particularly where displaced by cold weather; spend winter... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Range increasing due mainly to establishment of feral populations originating from birds introduced for ornamental purposes in... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 10 December 2019).