4 Species Of Swans In California (All You Need To Know)

California has been home to all four species of swans found in North America. Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Trumpeter Swan, and Whooper Swan are the four species.

Swans are huge birds that have been portrayed as lovely and appealing in children’s novels. White swans are the most common, however black swans exist as well.

Cobs are for male swans, while pens are for female swans.

For millennia, swans have been held in high regard by others. Only the kings or queens could preserve or hunt them and eat them, since they were formerly reserved for the aristocracy. They are, however, a protected wild species that may only be captured with a specific license.

The Mute Swan is an invasive species that is aggressive, particularly around breeding seasons and has been destroying habitats and pushing the native Trumpeter Swan to the verge of extinction.

You should learn more about Ducks in California if you enjoy seeing spotted waterbirds in the state.

According to avibase, this guide will help you distinguish the various varieties of swans seen in California and will provide correct information on when they may be seen.

4 Species Of Swans In California

1. Mute Swan

In California, mute swans are a newly established species that may be seen all year.

One of the biggest and heaviest flying birds is the Mute Swan. They were brought to the United States to beautify lakes and ponds, but have now gone wild and are breeding. They may be aggressive and cause issues for local wildlife.

  • Cygnus olor
  • Length: 56 – 62 in (142 – 157 cm)
  • Weight: 416 oz (11789 g)
  • Wingspan: 84 – 96 in (213 – 244 cm)

They have long, slender necks and orange bills with a huge, black basal knob. Their legs are black around the base of the bill and their bills are black. Males are bigger than females, but adults appear similar.

The orange-colored bills of juveniles are missing. Their bills are instead brownish-pink in color. Their body might occasionally have dark-brownish highlights.

In their juvenile (also known as cygnets), mute swans may take on two color morphs. From birth, the “Royal” chicks have gray down feathers that turn brown and white as they grow up. When the chicks hatch, they are white all over and stay that way throughout their lives. Their bills are light pink in color. Instead of black, their legs are pale pinkish-gray.

Europe is home to the mute swan. Nonetheless, the majority of the breeding population is now located in northeastern and southeastern Canada. They have expanded to other areas and are non-native and do not migrate.

In city parks, protected bays, and lakes, you may see a slew of Mute Swans. Shallow marshes, rivers, and estuaries are also good places to look for them.

The majority of the time, mute swans are floating on water. While on water, they forage for underwater flora and rely on it as their main food. They may also hunt for food on land, eating grass and agricultural plants.

Both male and female swans construct Mute Swan nests. Swans reuse their nests each year because they are monogamous, repairing and restoring them as necessary. On islands in the middle or margins of a lake, nests are common.

The female lays four to eight eggs in a mound made out of plants and vegetation. For around thirty-five to thirty-eight days, both parents incubate the eggs.

Fun Fact: When adult swans sense danger or threats, they are fiercely protective of their young and will attack anyone who gets near them. If the warning is not heeded, they will hiss as a warning and pursue and assault the predator.

2. Tundra Swan

During the winter months of November through mid-March, Tundra Swans may be seen in California, however they may also be seen throughout the year.

Whistling Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) of North America and Bewick’s Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) of Eurasia are two subspecies of swans that are known as tundra swans.

  • Cygnus columbianus
  • Length: 487 – 58 in (119 – 147 cm)
  • Weight: 370.37 oz (10496 g)
  • Wingspan: 72 – 84 in (183 – 213 cm)

The yellow patches at the base of a tundra swan’s beak identify them. The Whistling Tundra Swan has a bigger yellow patch than Bewick’s Tundra Swans. The Whistling Tundra Swan does not always have a yellow patch. They both have black legs and feet and long white bodies.

The bill of juvenile Whistling Tundra Swans is pink with a black tip and base. It is pale brown with white highlights.

The bill of juvenile Whistling Tundra Swans is pink with a black tip and base, and the birds are pale brown with white highlights.

In the Canadian Arctic and coastal Alaska, Tundra Swans breed. They move inland and to the Pacific Northwest. During the winter, they go to the Great Lakes and coastal mid-Atlantic regions.

Tundra Swans may be found on Arctic tundra, as the name suggests. In wetlands, marshy lakes, ponds, estuaries, and bays, they mostly form flocks. In agricultural fields, they also congregate.

The majority of Tundra Swans feed on aquatic plants, which they find by extending their head below the water’s surface. The huge webbed feet also help them burrow around the bottom. On land, they also eat grass and grassy vegetation. While on agricultural fields, crops, such as potatoes and corn, are their primary source of nutrition.

Tundra Swan nests are frequently placed near open water, forming mounds. They’re made of materials found in the region, utilizing plants. The female lays four to five eggs, which she nurtures for up to forty days until they emerge.

Fun Fact: Because of the sound their wings make while in flight, the Tundra Swan was once known as “Whistling Swan.”

3. Trumpeter Swan

In California, trumpeter swans are considered a unique or unusual species, although they have been sighted on rare occasions throughout the winter.

The longest and heaviest living bird native to North America is the Trumpeter Swan, which has the distinction of being so. It’s also the world’s heaviest flying bird.

  • Cygnus buccinator
  • Length: 58 – 72 in (147 – 183 cm)
  • Weight: 401.6 oz (11381 g)
  • Wingspan: 72 – 102 in (183 – 259 cm)

Except for their black beaks, legs, and feet, trumpeter swans are 100% white. Their eyes seem to be connected to their bills by a black patch on their face. Because of their interaction with iron components in wetland soils, their heads and necks may occasionally display rust-brown coloring.

The dark-gray bodies of juvenile Trumpeter Swans are bordered by a pink core on their black bills.

The trumpeter swans migratory to the Pacific Northwest from northern Canada and Alaska. Those that breed in the Great Lakes migrate to central United States.

Trumpeter Swans may be found in marshes, lakes, and rivers with dense vegetation. In open areas near shallow water, they breed. In addition, they can be found in agricultural areas.

Trumpeter Swans consume aquatic plants and vegetation while swimming in water, which they can touch with their bills. They are able to reach plants in deeper water, even tipping like a dabbling duck, thanks to their long necks, which allow them to reach them.

They can uproot aquatic plants and feed on them because of their enormous and strong bills. They also consume fallen or surplus grains and crops when they go to agricultural fields.

Trumpeter Swan nests are nearly usually found in or near water. By tossing grasses, grass-like plants, and other submerged vegetation over his shoulder, the male gradually creates mounds of material until he reaches the nesting place.

Beaver or muskrat lodges are also used to breed. After that, the female will lay four to six eggs and incubate them for roughly four weeks until they hatch.

Fun Fact: Swans are a species that mates for life. One adult stays with the nest when it is nesting. When it comes to defending their nesting territory, they are both territorial and aggressive.

4. Whooper Swan

In California, these rare swans are considered an accidental species. They have, however, recently been sighted in Pine Mountain Lake and River Islands Park in 2022.

The Common Swan is also known as the Whooper Swan (pronounced hooper swan). They have completely white bodies. They feature a black tip and a bright yellow beak that covers almost half of the beak.

  • Cygnus cygnus
  • Length: 60 in ( 152 cm)
  • Weight: 329.6 oz (9341 g)
  • Wingspan: 84 – 96 in (213 – 244 cm)

Swans breed in freezing northern climates and migrate south during the winter to wetlands. In the United States and Canada, however, vagrants exist.

In wetlands, flooded fields, lakes, and tiny ponds, you may see Whooper Swans living in flocks. They’ll be found on farmlands near the coast while grazing on land.

Swans feed on the water mostly, with a few exceptions. They hunt underwater plants by submerging their heads and long necks. They consume all of the plants, including the stems, using their broad bills toroot them out by their roots.

Islands and lakehores are commonly home to Whooper Swan nests. Plants, moss, reeds, grass, and lichens are used to create these massive mounds. For thirty-five days, the female incubates her four to six eggs. During this time, the male protects the nest.

When they are four or five months old, cygnets, or immature swans, may fly.

Fun Fact: Since their legs and feet are unable to support their huge bodies for long periods of time, Whooper Swans must be in close proximity to huge volumes of water when they’re growing up.

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