Bewick’s Swan

Irish Name: Eala Bewick
Scientific name: Cygnus columbianus
Bird Family: Swans
red
Conservation status

Status

Increasingly rare winter visitor from Siberia from November to March at wetlands in Counties Wexford and around Lough Neagh.

Identification

Smallest of the three white swan species occurring in Ireland, with yellow and black bill (yellow at the base, usually rounded or square, and not reaching the nostril or extending along the sides, as in Whooper Swan). Neck also shorter than Whooper Swan.

Voice

Similar to Whooper Swan, but more yapping or honking and less buglings

Diet

Plant material including tubers, shoots and leaves and they forage in water or flooded pasture

Breeding

Breeds across low-lying open grassy or swampy tundra of Arctic Siberia adjacent to pools, lakes or rivers

Wintering

Low-lying wet pasture, lakes, ponds and stubble. The majority of the European population winters in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain. One of the potential reasons that the species has declined in Ireland is that Bewick's Swans find suitable sites in these countries and no longer need to fly as far west as Ireland.

Monitored by

Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS). Swan census every five years, last in 2005.

Other

Fewer birds now migrate as far west as Ireland. Numbers here have declined from over 1,000 to less than 300 during the last swan census (2005).

Similar Species

Mute Swan

Irish Name:
Eala bhalbh
Scientific name:
Cygnus olor
Bird Family:
Swans

Whooper Swan

Irish Name:
Eala Ghlórach
Scientific name:
Cygnus cygnus
Bird Family:
Swans