Three of the four species of swans found in North America have been spotted in New Brunswick. They are the Mute Swan and Tundra Swan.
This guide will help you identify the types of swans spotted in New Brunswick with pictures and identification guides and uses data collected from bird watchers on ebird to give real information about when these birds can be spotted.
Swans are large birds that are considered graceful and beautiful and are even depicted in children’s stories as such. They are usually white, but there are also black swans.
Male swans are called cobs and female swans are called pens.
Swans hold a special reverence and have done for centuries. They were once the preserve of royalty, and only the kings or queens could keep or hunt them and eat them. However, they are a protected wild species but can now be hunted with a special permit, but few ever do.
However, swans can be a nuisance, and the Mute Swan is an invasive species that is aggressive, especially at breeding times and is causing the destruction of habitats and forcing the native Trumpeter Swan to the brink of extinction.
If you enjoy spotting waterbirds in New Brunswick, then you should also find out more about Ducks in New Brunswick.
2 Species Of Swans In New Brunswick
1. Mute Swan
Mute Swans are extremely rare in New Brunswick and are considered accidental species in the province. However, they were spotted around Chamcook in 2021.
Mute Swans are one of the largest and heaviest flying birds. They are non-native and were introduced to grace ornamental lakes and ponds but now have escaped into the wild and breed. They cause problems for native wildlife and can be aggressive.
They are entirely white, with long, graceful necks, orange bills with a large, black basal knob, black around the base of the bill, and black legs. Adults look alike, although males are larger than females.
Juveniles don’t have the orange-colored bills. Instead, they have dusky-pinkish bills. They may occasionally have dusky-brownish highlights on their body.
- Cygnus olor
- Length: 56 – 62 in (142 – 157 cm)
- Weight: 416 oz (11789 g)
- Wingspan: 84 – 96 in (213 – 244 cm)
Mute Swans are native to Europe. However, there is now a breeding population predominantly in northeastern US states and southeastern Canada. They are non-native and do not migrate, and have also spread to other regions.
You can find numerous Mute Swans in city parks, protected bays, and lakes. You may also find them on shallow wetlands, rivers, and estuaries.
Mute Swans spend most of their time floating on water. They forage for underwater vegetation, and this is their staple diet when on water. They may also forage for food on land, feeding on grass and agricultural crops.
Mute Swans Call:
Nests of Mute Swans are built by both male and female swans. Since swans are monogamous, they tend to reuse these nests each year, repairing and restoring them as needed. Nests are often found on islands in the middle or edge of a lake.
They use plants and vegetation to create a mound in which the female lays four to eight eggs. Both parents take turns in incubating the eggs for about thirty-five to thirty-eight days.
Fun Fact: Adult swans are highly protective of their young and will aggressively defend them when they sense danger or threats. They will hiss as a warning and will immediately chase and attack the predator if the warning is ignored.
2. Tundra Swan
Tundra Swans are accidental species in New Brunswick. They are extremely rare in the province and were last spotted around Salisbury in 2013.
Tundra Swans have entirely white bodies with long necks and black legs and feet. They also have a yellow patch near their eye, but it may not always be present.
Juvenile Whistling Tundra Swans are pale brown with white highlights and a mostly pink bill with a black tip and base.
- Cygnus columbianus
- Length: 487 – 58 in (119 – 147 cm)
- Weight: 370.37 oz (10496 g)
- Wingspan: 72 – 84 in (183 – 213 cm)
Tundra Swans breed in the Canadian Arctic and coastal Alaska. They migrate to the Pacific Northwest and sites inland. They also migrate for winter to the Great Lakes and the coastal mid-Atlantic.
You can find Tundra Swans, as their name suggests, on Arctic tundra. They mostly form flocks in wetlands, marshy lakes, ponds, estuaries, and bays. They also flock together in agricultural fields.
Tundra Swans mostly eat aquatic vegetation, which they forage for by sticking their head underwater. They also use their large webbed feet to dig around the bottom. They also eat grass and grass-like vegetation when on land. Crops, like potatoes and corn, are their diet when they’re on agricultural fields, especially after harvest time.
Tundra Swans Call:
Nests of Tundra Swans are usually built as mound-shaped nests near open water. They are built from plant materials available in the area. The female lays four to five eggs which she incubates for up to forty days until they hatch.
Fun Fact: The Tundra Swan used to be called “Whistling Swan” because of the sound their wings make in flight.