Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

This graceful swan is often kept in park ponds for its beauty. The male is known as a cob, the female is a pen, and the young are cygnets.


At almost 150 cm, this large white bird maintains a graceful stance whether swimming, flying, or resting. Its S-shaped neck, and downward pointing, black-knobbed orange bill are familiar throughout the northern hemisphere.


The mute swan was brought to North America from Europe to be kept in parks, but escapes have led to feral populations. Several populations occur in protected saltwater bays of southwestern British Columbia.


A breeding pair builds a nest large enough to accommodate 3 - 7 eggs, which are incubated by the female for up to 35 days. During this time, the male aggressively defends the territory with his strong wings. Contrary to popular belief, mute swans do not bite; it is their wings that are hazardous! The downy grey cygnets hatch and remain with their parents until the next breeding season. It is not uncommon for pairs to separate and find new mates although some do remain together until one dies.

This large bird is a herbivore, feeding on grasses, leaves and aquatic plants.