Telling swans apart is tricky

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

QHow can you tell a Bewick’s Swan and a Whooper Swan apart? I have re­cently been to Slim­bridge WWT and, look­ing out from one of the hides, I saw what I thought was a Whooper Swan but I was not able to be 100% sure as they both look very sim­i­lar. Is there any easy way to dis­tin­guish a Whooper Swan from a Bewick’s Swan? Joseph Mcin­tyre

The eas­i­est thing to look for is size; the Whooper Swan is a much larger bird than the Bewick’s, by as much as a foot in length in adult birds. The Whooper Swan also has a longer neck. The birds’ bills also hold a few clues to iden­tity; the Bewick’s Swan has a con­cave pro­file to the top of the bill, and a yel­low patch that ends bluntly above the bird’s nos­trils. The Whooper Swan, on the other hand, has a longer yel­low patch that comes to a point in front of the nos­tril, and a much straighter pro­file. The birds have dif­fer­ent calls, too, the main pointer be­ing that the Whooper re­peats its call in groups of three or four, whereas the Bewick’s Swan’s slightly more goose-like call is usu­ally only re­peated twice. Hope that helps!


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