Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)


French: Cygne siffleur German: Zwergschwan Spanish: Cisne chico
Other common names: Whistling Swan (columbianus)

Anas Columbianus


, 1815,

The Dalles, Oregon, USA


Placed by some in genus Olor with C. buccinator and C. cygnus. Subspecies bewickii has been regarded as a full species, but morphologically it is distinguished only by the yellow on the bill (which may, however, be variable#R) and possibly slightly smaller size. Population of NE Asia has been assigned a separate subspecies jankowskyi, though doubtfully valid. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. bewickii#R Yarrell, 1830 – Bewick's Swan – Kola Peninsula E throughout Arctic N Siberia; winters in W Europe, S of Caspian Sea and E China, Korea and Japan.
  • C. c. columbianus (Ord, 1815) – Tundra Swan – tundra of Arctic North America, also extreme NE Siberia; winters in W and coastal E USA and N Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    115–150 cm, male 3800–10,500 g, female 4100–9000 g (nominate); 115–140 cm, male 4536–8391 g, female 4300–7825 g (bew­ickii);... read more


    Nominate is very vocal throughout the year, especially on water and in flight, with calls serving... read more


    Breeds on shallow pools, lakes and rivers of moist Arctic tundra. On migration, in North Dakota (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly leaves, roots, rhizomes and stems of aquatic plants (Potamogeton, Zostera, Glyceria) and grasses,... read more


    Starts late May–Jun, e.g. lays 6–17 Jun on Vaygach I, N Russia (bewickii), although columbianus may reach... read more


    Migratory; winters in temperate areas; sporadically in more southern latitudes during cold winters... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Sizeable populations remain of both races. Winter counts produced 169,300 individuals of nominate columbianus; commonest... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus). 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 13 November 2019).