Friday, 9 November 2012

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

Two adult Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) in Akkeshi, Hokkadio, Japan - December 2014

Local Name (Japan): Oo-hakuchou (オオハクチョウ) - "Large Whitebird"
Local Name (Ainu): Pepap chikap ("Water-ladle birds") 
Weight: 8-11kg
Length: 1.4-1.6m
Wingspan: 2-2.8cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Whooper Swans are a large migratory swans that spend the Summer in Iceland and overwinter in the UK.  They are differentiated from Mute Swans by the yellow beak and from Bewick's swans by the larger size and the fact that the yellow on their beak is wedge shaped rather than rounded.  The wintering grounds are generally either in the North of the country, or in the general area of large estuaries such as the Wash and the Severn.  In the areas they frequent they can be seen grazing on fields in their family groups.  In Hokkaido, they are an abundant Winter visitor to wetlands and lakes, and can be seen easily even right next to towns. They are an important figure in Ainu mythology, regarded as a major divine spirit in the world.

Related Species:
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Subspecies: None - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare breeding species (9-15 pairs) and locally numerous Winter migrant (15,000 birds)
 - One flock seen at Nene Washes in November 2012
JAPAN - Locally abundant Winter migrant in Northern Japan.
 - TOKYO/HOKKAIDO 2014 TRIP: Abundant in Akkeshi and a number seen at Akan Crane Centre 

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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