Bewick's swan adults are white all over and young birds greyish with a pinkish bill. Compared to the similar whooper swan, these swans have proportionally more black and less yellow on their bill. They're also smaller than both mute and whooper swans and have faster wingbeats. Bewick's swans are a Schedule 1 species.
What they eat:
In the UK, Bewick's swans feed in fields on leftover potatoes and grain. On their breeding grounds they eat aquatic plants and grass.
- 115-127 cm from bill to tail, including the long neck. A wingspan of 170-195 cm
- Just under 6 kg on average
- UK wintering:
- 7,000 birds
- >23,000 birds (winter)
This bird species has different identifying features depending on sex/age/season.
Bewick's swan (adult)
Bewick's swan (juvenile)
Two species of swan come to the UK each winter: whooper swans migrate from Iceland and Bewick's swans make the journey from Siberia.
They both have yellow and black bills and can be difficult to separate; the patterns are unique to each individual bird and can be used to tell them apart.
Bewick's swans have more oval, rounded yellow patches on either side of their bill. They are the smallest swan species to visit the UK, not very much bigger than a Canada goose. Their calls are more reminiscent of an excited dog.
The yellow on a whooper swan's bill forms a pointed 'v' shape on either side. They are bigger birds than Bewick's swans and have a honking voice which can sound like an old-fashioned car horn!