Common Name: Tundra Swan
Scientific Name: Cygnus columbianus
Subspecies: The tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus) is a small swan of the Holarctic. The two taxa within it are usually regarded as conspecific, but are also sometimes split into two species: Bewick’s swan (Cygnus bewickii) of the Palaearctic and the whistling swan (C. columbianus) proper of the Nearctic.
Description: In adult birds, the plumage is entirely white, with black feet, and a bill that is mostly black, with a thin salmon-pink streak running along the mouthline and more or less yellow in the proximal part. The iris is dark brown. In birds living in waters that contains large amounts of iron ions (e.g. bog lakes), the head and neck plumage acquires a golden or rusty hue. Pens (females) are slightly smaller than cobs (males), but do not differ in appearance otherwise.
Immatures of both subspecies are white mixed with some dull grey feathering, mainly on the head and upper neck, which are often entirely light grey; their first-summer plumage is quite white already, and in their second winter they moult into the adult plumage. Their bills are black with a large dirty-pink patch taking up most of the proximal half and often black nostrils, and their feet are dark grey with a pinkish hue.
Distribution: As their common name implies, the tundra swan breeds in the tundra of the Arctic and subarctic, where they inhabit shallow pools, lakes and rivers. These birds, unlike mute swans but like the other Arctic swans, are migratory birds.
Habitat: The winter habitat of both subspecies is grassland and marshland, often near the coast; they like to visit fields after harvest to feed on discarded grains and while on migration may stop over on mountain lakes.