Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)

Trumpeter Swan

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Cygnus buccinator | [authority] Richardson, 1832 | [UK] Trumpeter Swan | [FR] Cygne trompette | [DE] Trompeterschwan | [ES] Cisne Trompetero | [NL] Trompetzwaan


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Cygnus buccinator NA nw


Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form the tribe Cygnini. Sometimes, they are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. There are six to seven species of swan in the genus Cygnus; in addition there is another species known as the Coscoroba Swan, although this species is no longer considered related to the true swans. All evidence suggests that the genus Cygnus evolved in Europe or western Eurasia during the Miocene, spreading all over the Northern Hemisphere until the Pliocene. When the southern species branched off is not known. The Mute Swan apparently is closest to the Southern Hemisphere Cygnus (del Hoyo et al., eds, Handbook of the Birds of the World); its habits of carrying the neck curved (not straight) and the wings fluffed (not flush) as well as its bill color and knob indicate that its closest living relative is actually the Black Swan. Given the biogeography and appearance of the subgenus Olor it seems likely that these are of a more recent origin, as evidence shows by their modern ranges (which were mostly uninhabitable during the last ice age) and great similarity between the taxa.

Physical charateristics

Larger than Tundra Swan, with a flatter head and a heavier, all-black bill. Black on lores wider, embracing the eyes and lacking the yellow basal spot (some Tundra Swans may also lack this spot).

Listen to the sound of Trumpeter Swan

[audio: Swan.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 210 cm wingspan max.: 230 cm
size min.: 150 cm size max.: 180 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 37 days
fledging min.: 84 days fledging max.: 120 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 8  


North America : Northwest


Lakes, ponds, large rivers; in winter, also bays.
Favors large but shallow freshwater ponds or wide, slow-flowing rivers, with lots of vegetation. Most of current range is in forested regions, but at one time was also common on northern prairies.


Usually forms pairs at age 2-4 years, but nests for first time at age 4-7 years. Often mates for life.
Site is surrounded by water, as on small island, beaver or muskrat house, floating platform. Nest (built by both sexes, although female may do most of work) is a low mound of plant material, several feet in diameter, with a depressed bowl in the center.
Same nest may be used in subsequent years.
Clutch 4-6, up to 9. Whitish, becoming nest-stained. Female does most of incubating but male often does some; eggs hatch in 32-37 days.
Young: Can swim when less than 1 day old. Both adults tend young, leading them to feeding sites. Young are not fully capable of flight until 3-4 months after hatching. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Mostly plant material. Adults eat mainly stems, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants, including pondweed, sedges, rushes, arrowlea
f, wild celery, bulrush, burreed, and many others. May eat terrestrial grasses and waste crops in winter. Young eat many insects and other small invertebrates, mainly during first 2 weeks after hatching.
Behavior: Takes food from underwater or on or above water’s surface; sometimes feeds on land, especially in winter. To forage in deeper water, swans upend with tail up and neck extending straight down, finding food by touch with bill.

Video Trumpeter Swan


copyright: MObirds


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Trumpeter Swan status Least Concern


Northwestern North America. Migration:

Most southern populations are non-migratory. Northern Trumpeters move south in late fall as waters begin to freeze. Flocks often fly low in V-formation. Spring migration begins early, birds often reaching nesting territory before waters are free of ice.

Distribution map

Trumpeter Swan distribution range map

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