Mute Swan

Mute SwanCygnus olor


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genre: Cygnus
  • Species: Cygnus olor

Identification characters

The Mute Swan is undoubtedly one of the best-known and best-loved birds. It appears both in the mythologies of different peoples and as a source of inspiration in music, ballet and fine art. It impresses by the beauty of its plumage, which is white-complete in adults, but also by its size and elegance, with a body length of 150 cm and a wingspan of 200-240 cm. Weighs 6600-15000 g. The neck is very long in relation to the head and the rest of the body. The neck can be held straight or, when swimming, curved in the shape of the letter S. The beak is red-orange and the forehead has a bump. The legs are black. The tail is relatively long and pointed. Sexual dimorphism is not pronounced. The male is larger, with a prominent bump.

Juveniles have greyish plumage and grey beak, and it is not until the third year of life that the plumage becomes completely white.


The Mute Swan is widespread in the southern and western Palearctic, including most of Europe, western Asia, some areas of eastern and southern Asia, and as far as the Middle East. In Europe it is common in most countries. Most populations are sedentary, but in harsh winters northern and eastern populations may move to south-western Europe and the Middle East. The European population is between 83 400 and 116 000 breeding pairs, with an increasing trend.

In Romania, the Summer Swan can be seen in most wetlands at different times of the year. The breeding population in Romania is between 4000 and 6000 pairs, mostly in the Danube Delta, but also in the puddles of the large river beds in the south and east of the country, in the west of the country and in the Transylvanian Plain. Between 30,000 and 50,000 individuals can be observed during the passages. Between 4,340 and 20,364 winter in our country.

Living environment and biology of the species

The Mute Swan prefers extensive wetlands with rich emergent vegetation, reed beds, as well as large lakes, ponds, river bed pools. It is also present in aquatic habitats transformed by human activities, including parks with large ponds or reservoirs.

In some parts of the range populations are migratory, in others partially migratory or sedentary. In Romania, during migration or winter periods, they gather in large numbers on the lakes of the Delta, in the lagoon area, respectively in the south and south-east of the country or in Moldova. The passage herds on Transylvanian lakes probably belong to Central and Western European populations. Many individuals from the northern and north-eastern populations spend the winter here or move south in the harsh winters. There are often significant mortalities in winter when weather conditions are extreme. They don’t sing, but the loud screeching of their wings in flight can be heard far away. In the wild they live an average of 10 years,

Their diet is predominantly plant-based, consisting of submerged plants collected in shallow water by submerging their heads and necks. They also occasionally feed on aquatic invertebrates such as various insects, larvae, worms, molluscs, as well as small fish or amphibians and amphibian larvae.

It is a monogamous species. Once formed, the pair is maintained for life. It builds massive nests in reeds, on flats or sometimes even on the ground in islands with abundant vegetation. They are territorial during the nesting period, when males in particular often display aggressive behaviour towards other birds. The female lays 5-8 smoke-white eggs. Incubation lasts 35-41 days and is carried out by both parents. The chicks are nidifugous, after hatching they swim into the water after the adults. For 120-150 days they stay in the vicinity of the adults, then they can become independent.

Threats and conservation measures

The Mute Swan is threatened by habitat loss or alteration, pollution and poor water management, poaching. Winter feeding of bread and other bakery products to swans by humans can lead to serious gastric complications due to difficulties in digesting processed products.

Conservation measures have been identified, such as respecting restrictions in riparian and coastal areas, maintaining restoration of wetland vegetation to an ecologically optimal level, proper waste and wastewater management around wetlands, measures to avoid eutrophication and sedimentation in wetlands.

The use of selective and low-toxicity agrochemicals, avoidance of the use of treated seeds in the vicinity of wetlands, and as far as possible the encouragement of organic production should be encouraged. It is advisable to install devices to increase the visibility of medium and high-voltage lines and to plan the installation of energy-generating structures such as wind turbines appropriately, minimising the risk of collision.

Hunting legislation must be respected and controlled, through cooperation between environmental protection organisations, hunting organisations, the gendarmerie and the Environmental Guard against poaching.

Important migration, feeding and aggregation areas for the conservation of the species should be identified and importance should be attached to studies covering various aspects of the biology of the species.


  • Fântână Ciprian, Kovács Istvan, Benkő Zoltán, Daròczi Szilárd, Domșa Cristian, Veres-Szászka Judit (editori), 2022, Atlas al speciilor de păsări de interes comunitar din România, ediția a II-a – Iubește păsările, salvează natura!, Proiect finanțat din Fondul European de Dezvoltare Regională prin Programul Operațional Infrastructură Mare 2014-2020, Ministerul Mediului, Apelor și Pădurilor- Direcția Biodiversitate, coordonare științifică Societatea Ornitologică Română și Asociația pentru Protecția Păsărilor și a Naturii Grupul Milvus, produs de EXCLUS PROD SRL, p. 8-9;
  • Lars Svensson, Hakan Delin, 1988, Photographic guide to the birds of Britain and Europe, Waterfowl p. 36, Chancellor Press, London
  • Svensson (text și hărți), 2017, Ghid pentru identificarea păsărilor. Europa și zona mediteraneană, traducerea și adaptarea în limba română: Societatea Ornitologică română, Emanuel Ștefan Baltag, Sebastian Bugariu, Alida Barbu, p.14;
  • Radu Dimitrie, 1983, Mic atlas ornitologic – Păsările lumii, Editura Albatros, București, p. 71;
  • Ornitodata | Mute Swan (
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