Tundra Swan

Cygnus columbianus




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Creamy white, nest stained.

Number of Eggs:

4 - 5

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground, near water.

Nest Material:

Made of plant material.





Tundra Swan: Small swan, completely white but with head and neck often stained rust-brown from ferrous minerals in marsh soils. Bill is black, usually with yellow spot at base. Legs and feet are black. Sexes are similar. Female is slightly smaller. Juvenile is pale gray-brown overall and has pink-orange bill with black base and tip. First-winter retains dingy gray feathering to the neck, body and wing coverts. Species can be separated by bill structure, angular head and a deeper V of the forehead feathering, as well as body size.

Range and Habitat

Tundra Swan: Breeds in Alaska and far northern Canada east to Baffin Island. Spends winters from southern Alaska south to Nevada, Utah, and Baja California and on mid-Atlantic coast; rarely found on the Gulf coast of Texas and occasionally on the Great Lakes. Preferred habitats include tundra, marshy lakes, and bays.

Breeding and Nesting

Tundra Swan: Four to five dull white eggs are laid on a large mound of grass and moss on an island or beside a marshy tundra lake. Incubation ranges from 31 to 40 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Tundra Swan: Their diet includes plants, mostly the seeds, stems, roots and tubers of aquatic vegetation, and mollusks. They forage by plunging their long neck into shallow water and pulling out vegetation from the bottom. They feed as a family group or in a flock, by dabbling, submerging their head and neck, upending and grazing in and along the margins of lakes, polygon ponds and channels.


Tundra Swan: Call is a mellow bugle "hoo-ho-hoo", usually heard during migration.

Similar Species

Tundra Swan: Trumpeter Swan is larger and has all-dark bill.

Wing covertsX
The feathers that cover and protect the flight feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X