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Tundra Swan

Whistling Swan

Larger version
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Species: columbianus
Binomial name
Cygnus columbianus
Tundra Swan, Cygnus columbianus is a small Northern Hemisphere swan. It has two races, which are sometimes considered to be separate species.

Whistling Swan, Cygnus (columbianus) columbianus, is the nominate North American form, and Bewick's Swan Cygnus (columbianus) bewickii is the European subspecies. The latter is named after the engraver Thomas Bewick, who specialised in illustrations of birds and animals.

Bewick's Swan

Bewick's is the smallest of the three British swans, similar in appearance to the Whooper Swan[?], but smaller, shorter-necked and with a more rounded head shape, with variable bill pattern, but always showing more black than yellow (the other way round with Whooper Swans). The bill pattern for every bird is unique, and scientists make detailed drawings of each and give them names to assist with studying this species.

Their breeding habitat is wetland. They pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years.

Bewick's Swans breed in the Arctic, around the Kara Sea in northern Russia. They migrate via the White Sea, Estonia, the Elbe estuary and the Netherlands.

They overwinter in England and Ireland, especially in the wildfowl reserves of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

These birds feed mainly by grazing on farmland. They have a high pitched honking call.

Whistling Swan

The American form of Tundra Swan breeds in arctic Alaska and Canada. and winters in the USA. It is distinguished from Bewick's by its largely black bill.


Adult and juvenile Bewick's Swan



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