Cygnus olor   (Gmelin,  1789) (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyright: Bill Hubick

Size: Mute swans are large birds, measuring 144 to 158 cm. The wingspan is 2 to 2.5 meters. total mass can reach from 8.4-10.2kg.

The two sexes are alike in appearance, except that males are generally larger than females.

Color: The plumage is white. They are best distinguished from North American swans by the knob at the base of the upper bill, and the color of the bill itself, which is orange, with the tip and base colored black. The head and neck may sometimes be stained brown from water and mud containing iron.

Breeding season: Breeding begins in March and April. Nest- The nest is large, made of aquatic vegetation, and lined with feathers and down. It is built well above the normal water level in swampy places near a pond or lake. Eggs- It is possible for clutches of 5 to 12 to occur, but 5 to 7 is most common. The eggs are pale gray to pale blue-green. Incubation lasts 36 to 38 days.

Synonym (s)
Anas olor Gmelin, 1789

Common Name (s)
• Mute Swan (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Ecosystem balance
(Mute swans impact aquatic vegetation communities through their grazing.)
Importance:  Commercial
(Mute swans were domesticated for food in Britain. Markings on their feet indicated ownership. Eventual domestication saved the bird from becoming hunted to extinction there. Feathers were also used as quills for writing, the leathery web used for purses, and the wing bones for making whistles.)
Importance:  Dangers
(Swans may attack people who approach their nests too closely. There are records of them knocking boaters off of jet skis. An adult swan can seriously injure children.

In addition, mute swans are thought to pose a threat to native wildlife as a result of competition for food, territories, and nesting areas.)
Threats:  Natural threats
(The species is also susceptible to avian influenza (e.g. strain H5N1) so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(The species suffers heavy losses from lead poisoning due to ingested lead fishing weights, lead shot and lead contaminated sediments from mining and smelting activities. Heavy losses have also been recorded from local incidences of copper poisoning. The ingestion of or entanglement in fishing lines and/or hooks can also cause severe injury or mortality as can collisions with overhead lines. The species may be threatened by future oil spills (which can cause death by oil saturation). )

Habitat:  Estuarine, Open Sea, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  aquatic insects, fish, and frogs
Predator:  raccoons (Procyon lotor) American minks (Neovison vison)
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Punjab INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • European environmental agency Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Available at -
  • Bill Hubick photography Available at -
  • Global invasive species database Available at -
  • Ali S and Ripley SD (1968) Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan Oxford university press 1 1-368pp Available at - NIO

Page last updated on:2013-03-11

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