Bewick's swan

Bewick's Swan

©Derek Moore

Bewick's swan

Scientific name: Cygnus columbianus
A winter visitor, the well-travelled Bewick's swan is the smallest of our swans. It has more black on its yellow-and-black bill than the whooper swan. Look out for it around Eastern England and the Severn Estuary.

Species information


Length: 1.2m
Wingspan: 1.9m
Weight: 5-7kg
Average lifespan: 9 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 5: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

October to March


Bewick's swans spend their winters in this country; they arrive from Siberia in late autumn, returning north again in the spring. They will often feed on fields during the day, eating crops like leftover potatoes and grain, before heading to roost on open water.

How to identify

The smallest UK swan, the Bewick's swan is white with a yellow and black bill. It can be distinguished from the whooper swan by the less extensive yellow markings on its bill.


Nests in Siberia but spends the winter in the UK, mainly in East Anglia, the Severn Estuary and Lancashire.

Did you know?

Individual Bewick's swans can be identified by looking at their bill: the pattern of black and yellow that they display is as unique as a fingerprint.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.