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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Cisne trompetero (Spanish)
Cygnus trompette (French)
Trompeterschwan (German)
Cygnus cygnus buccinator
Olor buccinator

Names for newly-hatched

Cygnet, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Male swan often called "Cob".

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B8, B9, B19, B25, B26

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w7, J23.13.w12,
B7, B10.26.w2, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B96, B97, B108, B128.w4
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Swans are generally aggressive and territorial, particularly while breeding, and each pair should be maintained in a separate pen, away from other swans, geese and large ducks, although the pen may be shared with small ducks, as these are usually ignored by most swan pairs. Fences adjoining other pens should be solid or screened with vegetation to avoid injury from swans trying to fight each other through wire fencing, and should be as tall as the swans themselves, to prevent fighting over the top of the fence.
  • Swans may be best kept on a large area of natural water containing aquatic vegetation, and the surrounding land. For a single pair, a pen of at least 400 square metres is suggested, of which half the area should be water and half grazing land. Banks should be at a shallow angle to allow easy entry to and exit from the water; this is particularly important if cygnets are to be parent reared. More than one pair may be kept in very large parks where each pair can establish a breeding territory. Swans appreciate water weed and grass, but other green foods such as lettuce and cabbage may be used as substitutes if necessary. They are relatively slow eaters and care should be taken in mixed enclosures that they get sufficient food. Natural food should be supplemented with extra green food, wheat and pellets; limited amounts of bread may also be given.
  • Good amounts of vegetation should be provided for nest building, with cover available for early-nesting species. Parent hatching and rearing is usual. Swans are able to defend their young against most predators, and their highly-aquatic lifestyle also makes cygnets less vulnerable. Unlimited green food should be available for the cygnets.
  • If hand-reared, cygnets should be kept in a brooder with a heat lamp (to give 92F in the first week), with sufficient room for the birds to choose their own comfort zone. Access to water for a swim is appreciated; this may be in an appropriately sized bowl initially (e.g. while the brooder is cleaned out). Starter pellets, chopped green food and for the first few days chopped hard-boiled egg may be given, and grit should be available. If weather permits the cygnets may be kept outside in a pen with a pond by two to three weeks old. It is important to ensure unlimited green food is always available and that the cygnets do start feeding initially (see: Stimulating Feeding of Downies (Waterfowl)), as there is a risk of Starveout.

(B7, B10.26.w2, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B97, B108, B128.w4, D1).

Species-specific Information:

  • Trumpeter swans are hardy and their management simple but they should be provided with a large area. They are aggressive to other birds, particularly to other swans and to geese, and can be aggressive to humans, particularly while breeding; however they usually leave smaller ducks alone. They are best maintained in their own enclosure. They may be fed wheat, pellets, plenty of green food, grass, and some bread.
  • These swans breed fairly readily, laying eggs from late April to end of June, on a large pile of vegetation.
  • Hybridization has been reported with Cygnus cygnus - Whooper swan.

(J23.13.w7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B96, B97, D1)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: W 27.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 60-7 inches, 150-180cm (B3, B1)
Adult weight General 7.3-12.5kg (B1)
Male 9.1-12.5kg, average 11.9kg (B3); mean 26.2 lbs. (B8)
Female 7.3-10.2kg, average 9.4kg (B3); mean 20.7 lbs. (B8)
Newly-hatched weight 206g (B9)
Growth rate 34.1 times hatching weight at 75 days (B9).

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Adult Bill Male Black with red line along junction of upper and lower mandibles; length greater than 50mm from front of nostrils to tip of bill.
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Fleshy pink with black around base.
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown.

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Adult Male Black. Middle toe > 135mm long excluding nail.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Grey to fleshy.

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Adult Male White.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Some grey- brown feathers in first year.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts silver-grey, underparts white.
Bill: flesh-pink, grey along sides and at tip.
Feet: pale orange, later flesh-coloured

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins March/April.
No. of Clutches Sometimes lay a second clutch if the first is lost.

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Nest placement and structure

On islands or shoreline, preferred sites on muskrat houses, built of marsh plants.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 4-8 (B1); 4-9 (B8).
Egg Description Dull white. Size: 118 x 76mm, weight: 325g (B3).

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33-37 days (B1); 32-40 days (B8).

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84-120 (B1, B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Three to four years.
Females Three to four years.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Feed by head-dipping and up-ending in the water, but also feed on land.
Newly-hatched Utilise food dropped and brought to surface by adults.

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By both parents.
Incubation Basically by female but male may sit on eggs while female feeding
Newly-hatched Continue to return to nest for about 1 month after hatching: to brood at night and for loafing during the day.

Family bonds appear to persist for at least two years.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Family groups and pairs form small flocks in the winter, although there is considerable aggressive behaviour related to pair formation and maintenance.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong permanent pair bonds.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Mostly vegetarian: leaves and stems of aquatic plants, also seeds, tubers such as potatoes.

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Aquatic insects are the main food initially.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Alaska, west Canada (breeding); coasts of south Alaska, British Columbia, northern USA in winter. Also NW USA year round.

Birds from Alaska and west Canada move to Pacific coast for winter. North-western USA (reintroduced) populations are sedentary (local movements only).

Occasional and Accidental




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Swamps, marshes, shallow lakes. In boreal-forest zone. Coastal areas and estuaries in winter.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened. Still considered rare, but increasing (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Now protected from shooting, main threat lead poisoning (B1, B8).

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Captive Populations

Reasonably well established (B8).

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