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).
Status: Increasingly rare winter visitor from Siberia from November to March at wetlands in Counties Wexford and around Lough Neagh.
Conservation Concern: Red-listed in Ireland due to a severe decline in the number of Bewick's Swans wintering in Ireland. The European wintering population has declined in several countries and consequently is regarded as Vulnerable.
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.
Similar Species: Whooper and Mute Swans.
Call: Similar to Whooper Swan, but more yapping or honking and less bugling.
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.
Where to See: Found mostly at Tacumshin Lake and Wexford Slobs (c. 200 birds) in County Wexford.
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS). Swan census every five years, last in 2005.