Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)


French: Cygne chanteur German: Singschwan Spanish: Cisne cantor

Anas Cygnus


, 1758,



Sometimes placed in genus Olor with C. buccinator and C. columbianus. Closely related to C. buccinator; which has been considered a subspecies of present species. Population of Iceland sometimes regarded as a geographical race, islandicus, though doubtfully valid. Monotypic.


Iceland and Scandinavia E to NE Siberia; winters in W & C Europe, around Baltic, North, Black, Caspian and Aral Seas, E to coastal China and Japan.

Descriptive notes

140–165 cm; male 7200–15,500 g, female 5600–13,100 g; wingspan 205–243 cm. Female averages smaller. Chief risk of confusion is with C. columbianus... read more


Whooping call, from which species’ English name derives, is bisyllabic, often used repeatedly and... read more


Breeds in northern zones, on pools and lakes of shallow fresh waters, preferably in wooded country... read more

Food and feeding

Almost entirely vegetarian, mainly aquatic plants (Zostera, Ruppia, Potamogeton) and grass during the breeding... read more


Starts late Apr–May in Iceland and Fennoscandia, but from mid–late May in Russia and even into June at some latitudes, with... read more


Migratory. Part of Icelandic population (typically 500–1300 birds) remains in winter, varying... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Now protected in many range states, including Iceland (since 1885), Japan (1925), Sweden (1927), UK (1954) and Russia (1964). Slight... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus). 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 22 November 2019).