Cygnus bewicki

Bewick's Swan.

Cygnus bewicki.

Bewick's swan is so very like the whooper that it requires a fairly near view to differentiate them, for though Bewick's is a considerably smaller bird, this cannot be appreciated unless there are facilities for comparison, and dimensions vary in both species; while of course detailed examination is necessary correctly to observe the distribution of black and yellow on the bill, which furnishes the most reliable distinction. Bewick's swan, like the whooper, has the face and base of the bill yellow, but the yellow is confined to this part of the bill, all the rest being black from the nostrils to the tip, as is also in some cases the ridge of the bill between the nostrils and the forehead. The yellow generally stops short at or before the basal end of the nostrils, all across the beak, and never extends below the further end of them and even beyond that, as it does in the whooper. The young birds in this species are grey, and have flesh-colour on the bill where the old ones are yellow ; the weight is up to twelve pounds, little smaller than some whoopers. The first undoubted Indian example of Bewick's swan was recorded by Mr. E. C. S. Baker, in the Bombay Natural History Society's Journal in 1908, vol. xviii. It was a fine adult bird, and had been killed at Jacobabad, by Mr. McCulloch. In the winter of 1910-1911, two more specimens turned up, one near Mardan, and another at Campbellpur, on December 30 and January 2 respectively; both were adults apparently, and the exceptional cold then prevailing no doubt, as Mr. Baker suggested in record- ing these specimens, had caused their appearance in our limits; at the same time he recorded the occurrence of a couple of young whoopers, shot out of a flock of seven on the Kabul River. It is very possible that a swan recently recorded as seen near Bhamo, though not bagged, may have been of this species, as it is said to have had a small black bill. In any case, there is now no doubt about the occurrence of Bewick's swan as an occasional visitor to India, while probably Burma also is within range of its winter wanderings. In fact, as this bird has a more eastern range than the whooper, at any rate in the breeding-season, it might be reasonably expected to come in at least as often as that species ; its normal winter quarters in Asia, how¬ever, are China and Japan, and in China it seems to be the commonest swan at that season. In the west it ranges in winter as far south as the Mediterranean.

It has a quite different and less musical note than the whooper, resembling the syllable " kuk ". many times repeated, and sits high on the water. It comes ashore a good deal, and is a better walker than most swans ; it can, moreover, run well.

Indian Sporting Birds
Finn, Frank. Indian Sporting Birds. Edwards, 1915.
Title in Book: 
Cygnus bewicki
Book Author: 
Frank Finn
Page No: 
Common name: 
Bewicks Swan
Cygnus columbianus bewickii
Term name: 

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