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Mute Swan

What am I?

One of the largest, heaviest and most iconic British birds with a long S- shaped neck, orange bill and snow-white plumage. They are common in most places and easily recognised. The mutes are the only swan species resident on our shores. The 7,000 local breeding pairs are joined by over 50,000 overwintering birds every year, numbers of international importance. Mute swans feed on plants, particularly waterweed, insects, and snails. They usually mate for life.  

How to spot them

They are easily spotted along the coast, on lakes, pondsand reservoirs. Sometimes can be seen on fields or farmland in large flocks. Young birds, called cygnets, are brownish grey in colour with a dark bill. In winter adults could be confused in flight with the smaller Bewick swan, or more likely the similar sized whooper swan. Generally, the mute swans wingbeats are slower, heavier, and more audible– their wings can be heard from a distance. Mute swans make no honking sounds. The only noise they make are low grunts.  

Where to see them

Throughout the UK, all year round.

Conservation status

The mute swan is green listed in the UK

Did you know?

The typical lifespan of mute swans in 10 years with breeding typically at 4th year. The oldest ringed bird was 29 years old.  

Mute Swan

Photo Credit: John Parish