Swans in Ireland
There are three naturally occurring swans in Ireland.
- The Mute Swan Cygnus olor is resident and occurs throughout a diversity of Ireland's wetlands and occasionally seen grazing in fields. There is very little immigration or emigration. We also have two species of migratory swans that arrive into Ireland in October each season, and depart for their breeding grounds in April.
- The Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus is by far the most numerous and widespread, with more thn 15,000 birds occurring across Ireland. They are quite often seen by day grazing in fields, and flighting to and from their wetland roosts at dusk and dawn. Whooper Swans migrate from Iceland.
- The Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii is very similar in appearence to the Whooper Swan. But luckily for us, from an identification perspective, there are very few birds that winter in Ireland. But it is unfortunate that their numbers occurring here have declined from more than 2,000 during the 1980's to less than 100 birds nowadays. Bewick's Swans migrate from Siberia, and we think that climate change is creating better habitats closer to their breeding grounds, so they don't need to come so far west any more.
There is one further species of swan that occurs in Ireland - the Black Swan Cygnus atratus. They are native to Australia and were introduced into Ireland. They occur in small numbers at relatively few sites.
International Swan Census
As part of an international collaboration, a thorough census of our wild migratory swans has taken place every five winters across their wintering grounds throughout north and west Europe. These censuses help to track the status of Whoopers and Bewick's Swans. The I-WeBS Office coordinates this census in the Republic of Ireland. The next census is scheduled for the weekend of 17th & 18th January 2015. Click here for more details about the censuses.