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The whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus), pronounced “hooper swan”, is a large, Northern Hemisphere swan. It is the Eurasian counterpart of the North American trumpeter swan.
Whooper swans require large areas of water to live in, especially when they are still growing. That’s because their body weight cannot be supported by their legs for extended periods of time. Hence, the whooper swan spends much of its time swimming. It also strains the water for food and eats plants that grow on the bottom of bodies of water.
Whooper swans have a deep honking call and, despite their size, are powerful fliers. They can migrate hundreds or even thousands of miles to their wintering sites in southern Europe and eastern Asia. Meanwhile, they breed in subarctic Eurasia, in the taiga zone. They are rare breeders in northern Scotland, particularly in Orkney, and no more than five pairs have bred there in recent years. Additionally, a handful of pairs have also bred in Ireland in recent years.
This bird is an occasional vagrant to the Indian Subcontinent and western North America. Icelandic breeders overwinter in the United Kingdom and Ireland, especially in the wildfowl nature reserves of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.