Mute Swan

Photo by GENI. License: GFDL CC-BY-SA

LATIN NAME: Cygnus olor

WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Weighing in at up to fifteen kilos, and with a wingspan of two metres, the Mute Swan is one of Britain’s largest birds. It is less vocal than other swan species, hence the name. It is recognisable by the characteristic knob on the bill.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: There are roughly 22,000 birds in the UK. They are found throughout central and northern Europe, Russia, and patchily from Turkey to China. They winter in northern Africa, northwestern India, and Korea. Populations exist elsewhere that have been introduced for ornamental value. The birds can be found in bodies of freshwater. Mute Swans can often be seen on Whiteknight’s lake.

INTERESTING FACT: Their increasing abundance in western Europe has led to research into their potential environmental impacts. Some results imply that the presence of Mute Swans may reduce the abundance and diversity of certain aquatic plants that are important for water oxygenation, nutrient cycling, and providing cover for fish and invertebrates.


Austin, G., Collier, M., Calbrade, N., Hall, C.,  Musgrove, A. 2008. Waterbirds in the UK 2006/07. Thetford: Wetland Bird Survey.

Gayet, G. et al. 2011. Do mute swan (Cygnus olor) grazing, swan residence and fishpond nutrient availability interactively control macrophyte communities? Aquatic Botany. 95. 110-116.

Grzimek’s Animal Encyclopedia, Second Edition. Volumes 12-16, Mammals I-V, edited by Michael Hitchins, Devra G. Kleiman, and Melissa C. McDade. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2003.


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