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Conservation status: Green

The mute swan is a very large white waterbird. It has a long S-shaped neck, and an orange bill with black at the base of it. Flies with its neck extended and regular slow wingbeats. The population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species. The problem of lead poisoning on lowland rivers has also largely been solved by a ban on the sale of lead fishing weights. Some birds stay in their territories all year, while others move short distances and form winter flocks. In cold weather, some birds arrive from Europe into eastern England.



Latin name

Cygnus olor


Swans, ducks and geese (Anatidae)

Where to see them

Breeds across most of the UK, other than in northern Scotland, mid-Wales and the moors of south-west England. Possible to see anywhere there is a shallow lake, or a slow-flowing rivers, even in urban areas and parks.

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Water plants, insects and snails.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-5,800-7,000 pairs79,000 birds-




Fraser Simpson, Xeno-canto