Whooper swan

LIVING HABITS

The whooper swan is a northern species, found all over Finland. Whooper swans breed in marshy bonds, in lush swamps and sheltered bays of lakes. The whooper swan is a dabbler, diving for food from the bottom of the lake with its long neck. They feed on aquatic plants and their roots, small invertebrates, berries and seeds. A female and a male often form a lifetime relationship. The development of a swan fledgling into a flying bird takes a long time, and whooper swans leave for migration first when lakes are freezing. However, some autumns some of the fledglings remain behind as their mothers leave for the south; these lost fledglings are then brought to wildlife parks for necessary care and shelter. Normally, the whooper swan mother and its young stay together over the first winter.

PROTECTION

In the beginning of the 1900’s the whooper swan species was almost extinct in our country. The last timid individuals lived in the remote untouched areas of the wilderness in the North. In rescuing the species the Finnish veterinarian and writer, Yrjö Kokko with his books ”Laulujoutsen/The singing swan” and ”Ne tulevat takaisin/They are coming back” played an important part. Nowadays whooper swans are fairly common in Finland.

ADAPTING TO THE WINTER

Whooper swans migrate to the islands of Great Britain, Black Sea or the coasts of Western Europe for winter grounds.

Whooper swan

Cygnus cygnus

Whooper swan

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SIZE: Weight: 8-10kg, wingspan: 215-230cm.

BREEDING: The female lays 4-7 eggs in May-June, incubation period: 35-42 days and nights. Independent in 1 year, sexual maturity reached in 4-6 years.

LIFESPAN: According to ringing data, the oldest whooper swan has lived to the age of 16 years.

Did you know that whooper swans were important birds for people in Lapland in the far early days? In the spring when food supply was often extremely sparse, the whooper swans returning from migration came to rescue: one whooper swan gave 5 kg meat, even eggs were eaten.