Mute Swan 33 (Ronnie Martin).JPG

Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

Eala bhalbh

Status: Resident at wetlands throughout Ireland.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland, as more than 20% of the European population winter in Ireland. The European population is considered to be Secure.

Identification: Large white swan, with an orange-red bill with prominent knob on the forehead, black nostrils and cutting edges.

Similar Species: Only likely to be confused with Whooper and Bewick's Swans in Ireland.

Call: Despite the name not mute! Adults give a curious snorting or rumbling sound. Juveniles beg with high-pitched whistle. Hisses when alarmed. Does not call in flight, but a loud whisteling sound is produced by the wings.

Diet: Water plants, which these large birds can reach with their long necks at depths of up to one metre. Also graze on land and occasionally feed on small amphibians, snails and insects.

Breeding: Clutch: 4-7 eggs (1 brood) Incubation: 34-45 days. Fledging: 120-150 days (precocial). Age of first breeding: 3 years. Breeds on lakes, ponds & rivers, and nests are a large mound constructed from reed stem and other aquatic vegetation, with seaweed being used in coastal locations.

Wintering: Widespread on lakes, ponds and rivers.

Where to See: Largest wintering numbers (250-2,000 birds) found on Loughs Neagh & Beg & Upper Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, and Lough Ennell, the Shannon Callows and River Slaney in winter.

Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS). 


Ireland's Birds  |  Swans


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