Mute Swan

One of the most beautiful birds in the world, the Mute Swan can be found on British waterways throughout the year. The RSPB estimate that there is approximately 5,800 to 7,000 breeding pairs resident in Britain, and during the winter this number is boosted to around 79,000 breeding pairs, as Swans arrive from Eastern Europe, to escape the freezing continental weather.


LATIN NAME; Cygnus olor. It gets it name Mute, from the fact it is quiet. They are less vocal than other types of swans. Size - 140 to 160 cm (55 to 63 in) long. Wingspan - 200 to 240 cm (79 to 94 in). Weight - Average female about 9kg, males 11kg. They are one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. They can live up to 15 years old. A male swan is known as a 'Cob' and a female, a 'Pen'.

Breeding & Feeding

Mute Swans remain with their partners for life. After the age of 2, they create large nest mounds at the side of lakes and rivers, using reeds, grasses, fallen branches etc. The male collects the materials and the female makes the nest, which they can return to each year. In late April, early May, the female lays her eggs (up to seven in total). They both take turns to incubate the eggs, and about 37 days later they hatch. Mute Swans will aggressively defend their nests during the breeding season. They hiss and raise their wings. If they attack, they use their beaks and hard bony spurs on their wings. The young, known as Cygnets, stay with their parents, until their brownish feathers turn white, and in time they are chased away by their parents.

They eat mostly aquatic vegetation, and also some insects, and tiny fish and tadpoles.

How to identify a Mute Swan

The easiest way to identify a Mute Swan is by looking at its beak. They are bright orange, and black at the base near their eyes. They also have a raised nob on the top of them. Whooper Swans, and Bewick's Swans have black tipped beaks, with yellow towards the base. Once you know about the beak difference, it's very easy to identify them.