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Mute Swan

Cygnus olor

Length: 58 inches Wingspan: 7.5 feet Seasonality: Wild birds unlikely
ID Keys: All white plumage, black lores and black knob, orange bill.

Mute Swan - Cygnus olorThe Mute Swan is an introduced species, brought from Europe as an "ornamental" species.   Escaped birds have established wild populations in scattered locations across North America.  Populations are generally increasing, with locally dense populations in the East causing concern about competition with native waterfowl.  The South Dakota Ornithologist's Union  lists the Mute Swan as "hypothetical" in their 1991 book "The Birds of South Dakota".  A free flying bird observed in 1988 may have been a tame bird that had escaped. 

Habitat: Wide variety of aquatic habitats, including ponds, lakes, marshes, sloughs, and parks.  Even wild populations are often found in close association with human settlements, but some are established in remote locations.

Diet: Mostly the seeds, leaves, and roots of aquatic plants.  Will also feed on waste grain, grasses and sedges, insects, mollusks, and small fish.

Behavior: Feeds in the water by swimming on the surface, dabbling for food items on the surface, or reaching its head under water.  Will also forage on land.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Generally silent, but does have a variety of grunts and hisses.

Migration:  Status unknown in the state, but northern populations generally do move south in the fall.

Interactive eBird map: Click here for an interactive ebird map of Mute Swan sightings

Similar Species: Trumpeter Swan, Tundra Swan

Status: North American populations continue to expand in number and range, competing with native waterfowl for resources in some areas.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Mute Swan

2) BirdWeb - Mute Swan

3) Audubon Guide - Mute Swan

Photo Information: May 9th, 2004 -- Arrowhead Park east of Sioux Falls -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Mute Swan photos.


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Mute Swan - North American Range Map
South Dakota Status: Sightings of Mute Swans in South Dakota are generally assumed to be escapees or tame birds.

Additional Mute Swan Photos
 Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Mute Swan - Cygnus olorMute Swan - Cygnus olor