Mute Swan - Cygnus olor


The Mute Swan has a long S-shaped neck and an orange bill with black at the base of it. It flies with its neck extended and regular slow wing beats. The population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species. The problem of lead poisoning on lowland rivers has also largely been solved by a ban on the sale of lead fishing weights. Some birds stay in their territories all year, while others move short distances and form winter flocks. In cold weather, some birds arrive from Europe into eastern England.

Identification difficulty

Breeds across most of the UK, other than in northern Scotland, mid-Wales and the moors of south-west England. Possible to see anywhere there is a shallow lake, or slow-flowing rivers, even in urban areas and parks.

When to see it

All year round

Life History

They nest on large mounds that they build with waterside vegetation in shallow water on islands in the middle or at the very edge of a lake. They are monogamous and often reuse the same nest each year, restoring or rebuilding it as needed. They feed on a wide range of vegetation, both submerged aquatic plants which they reach with their long necks, and by grazing on land.

UK Status

Fairly common and widespread in Britain

VC55 Status

Common as a winter bird in Leicestershire and Rutland and fairly common as a breeding bird in our area.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map