Trumpeter swan with chicks in exhibit

Trumpeter Swan

Scientific Name
Cygnus buccinator
Geographic Range
Northern United States, Canada, Alaska
Aquatic vegetation (also, tubers, grains)
Trumpeter swan in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

The largest North American waterfowl species and the largest swans in the world, trumpeter swans have white plumage and a black bill and legs. They can be up to 5 feet long with wingspans of 6.6 feet and a weight near 29 pounds. They spend a lot of time preening and waterproofing their feathers with help from an oil-secreting gland at the base of their tails. To feed, they take vegetation from the surface of the water or dip their necks under to forage.

They may pair together when 2–4 years of age, but do not necessarily breed until several years later. These birds build nests close to shore, sometimes constructing them out of existing animal dens, beaver dams, or other structures. Trumpeter swans lay four to six eggs per clutch and incubate them for 32–37 days. Hatched chicks can swim before they are a day old but cannot fly until they are three or four months old.

Did You Know?

  • Trumpeter swans fly lower in the air than other waterfowl and do so with rapid, shallow wingbeats.
  • These swans spend time in pairs or family groups. Pairs stay together year-round and migrate together.
  • Trumpeter swans have a large range and an increasing population today, but they were nearly driven to extinction in the early 20th century due to hunting for meat, skin, and feathers. In 1935, there were only 69 individuals left. Conservation measures have helped their numbers rebound; hunting them is now illegal.


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We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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