Whooper Swan

Cygnus cygnus

Eala Ghlórach

Status: Winter visitor to wetlands throughout Ireland from October to April.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed due to Ireland hosting more than 20% of the European wintering population. Also due to the majority of Whooper Swans wintering at ten or less sites, as well as its very small breeding population. BirdLife International has assessed the European population as Secure.

Identification: Similar to Bewick's Swan, but larger, with longer neck. Yellow and black bill, with the yellow projecting below the nostril.

Similar Species: Mute and Bewick's Swans.

Call: Vocal bugling or honking.

Diet: Aquatic vegetation, but they are increasingly being recorded grazing on grass in pasture and spilt grain, as well as potatoes from cultivated land.

Breeding: Open shallow water, by coastal inlets, estuaries and rivers. The population occurring in Ireland breeds in Iceland.

Wintering: Most on lowland open farmland around inland wetlands, regularly seen while feeding on grasslands and stubble.

Where to See: Relatively widespread, especially north and west of a line between Limerick and Dublin. Lough Swilly & River Foyle (Co. Donegal) and Lough Foyle on the Donegal/Derry boundary, Lough Gara (Co. Sligo) and the Lough Oughter wetland complex all support greatest numbers (400-2,000 birds).

Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS), and a special swan census is carried out every five years, the last in 2005. Please report any ring sightings to the Irish Whooper Swan Study Group. A satellite tracking projectof Whooper Swans has recently begun, and they will be tracked from their breeding grounds in Iceland to their wintering grounds in Britain and Ireland.


Ireland's Birds  |  Swans


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