British wildlife recordings
Cygnus cygnus : Whooper Swan - Anatidae
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Packington, Leicestershire: OS Grid Reference(436500,314500)
Whooper Swan, Cygnus cygnus
This is a recording of calls uttered by whooper swans. The whooper is one of two species of swan which visit Britain during the winter, the other being the Bewick's swan. Although similar to the Bewick, the whooper is larger, with a more upright posture and a triangular patch of yellow on the bill. It also has square-ended tail which can be seen when it upends in the water. The whooper swan breeds in Iceland and about three-quarters of the Icelandic population migrate to Britain in winter. When it first arrives in Britain during the October breeding season, it feeds on streams and lakes which are so rich in iron that its head and neck is often stained a rust colour. The whooper, as its name implies, produces a very loud whooping or trumpeting call, which serves to reaffirm bonds between family members, particularly as the young stay with their parents for their entire first year. The winter population is around 10,000 individuals, which are now specially protected. The main threats to the whooper swan are from overhead power lines and poisoning from lead in gun cartridges. Like many other seasonal birds, the estuaries and wetlands which the swan visits on migration and where is roosts during winter, are vitally important and also need protection.