Whooper Swan | WWF
© WWF / Hartmut JUNGIUS

Whooper Swan

Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), Khabarovsk Territory, Siberia, Russian Federation.

Whooper Swan

Whooper swan (<i>Cygnus cygnus</i>), Khabarovsk Territory, Siberia, Russian Federation. rel= © WWF / Hartmut JUNGIUS

The national bird of Finland, which mates for life

Whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) is the national bird of Finland. It is a large Northern Hemisphere swan which breeds in subarctic Eurasia, further south than Bewick's swan in the taiga zone. They are migratory wintering in northern Europe and eastern Asia. This bird is an occasional vagrant to western North America. Their breeding habitat is wetland.

It is a large white swan at 140-160cm length with a 205-235cm wingspan. It has a more angular head shape and a more variable bill pattern that always shows more yellow than black. These birds feed mainly by grazing on farmland on coasts or inland flood plains. They have a deep honking 'whoop-whoop' call, sounding trumpet-like from flocks. The juvenile is pale gray-brown and has pink bill with black tip.

Whooper swans pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years. The yellow markings on the bill of the Whooper Swan are like human fingerprints; they are all different. Each individual bird can be recognized by their bill pattern. This swan is featured on the Finnish 1 euro coin.

Your chance of seeing one in the wild
A total of 40,000 birds winter in Europe. Although the population is protected throughout its range, ringing recoveries showed that 13% had been illegally shot or deliberately taken by humans. Its winter population and small breeding numbers make it an Amber List species. It is listed as 'least concern' in the IUCN 2006 Red List of Threatened Species.