Mute swans will aggressively defend their nests and young if they feel threatened. These large birds can easily injure people and pets. In general, it is always a good idea to keep a respectful distance between yourself and any large waterfowl.
About This Species
Mute swans are native to Europe and Asia and became invasive throughout North America after being intentionally introduced by settlers in the 1870s. In BC, they are found in Southern Vancouver Island and in the Fraser River delta.
These large birds have few natural predators in BC and can raise up to eight young in a year. Adults may weigh between 11-19 kg. Requiring up to 4 kg of food each day, they feed mainly of submerged aquatic plants in marshes, lakes, and rivers, and uproot the plants they eat. This reduces food and habitat for native waterfowl and other wildlife and can drastically alter aquatic ecosystems.
How to Identify
Two other species of swan are known to overwinter in Southwestern BC, the Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator) and the Tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus). Adult Mute swans have bright orange bills with a black knob at the base, while both other species have black bills.
Juveniles of all three species have grey plumage, and juvenile Mute swans have grey bills with a less pronounced black knob and a ring of white plumage around the beak and eye.
Mute swans hold their neck in an “S” shape, while Trumpeter and Tundra swans hold their necks in a “C” shape.
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If you need advice about invasive species on your property or you are concerned about reported invasives in your local area, contact your local government or regional invasive species organization.
Do not feed wild swans.
If swans are nesting on your property, contact Canadian Wildlife Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.