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Dieren en planten

Birds   Bewick's Swan   Bird Protection   Swimming birds   

Water en land

Bewick's swan


115-127 centimeters
wingspan: 180-211 centimeters

color (adults):

totally white plumage, black legs, black bill with yellow patch


grass, tundra moss, aquatic plants, grains


Arctic fox, raccoons; loss of winter habitat

Dutch status:

migratory, winter guest


Russian tundra


maturity: age 4
eggs per nest: 4-7

life span:

9 years old (maximum known age: +20 years)

unusual features:

pair for life; can fly at altitudes of ~9000 meter when migrating

  • Dut: Kleine Zwaan
  • Eng: Bewick's Swan, tundra swan
  • Fre: Cygne de Bewick
  • Ger: Zwergschwan
  • Ital: Cigno minore
  • Lat: Cygnus columbianus
Bewicks swan, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

Bewick's Swan

Bewick's swans are called 'small swans' in Dutch. Even though they are big birds, they are smaller than mute and whooper swans. Bewick's swans have more than 25,000 feathers on their body, providing excellent insulation when they are in northern Russia where they nest. They move south in the winter, where the grass is more tender than the withered tundra grass hidden under the snow. This swan is named after the illustrator Thomas Bewick.

On Texel

In the winter, hundreds of Bewick's swans are found on Texel, with a maximum of more than 1000 in 2004. They are usually in the northern polders on the island, where they forage on the remains in the beet and potato fields. The farmers on Texel have no problem with these birds on their land.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Bewicks swan, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Bewick's swans breed on the northern Russian tundra. Thanks to the large amounts of pondweed growing in the freshwater IJsselmeer, the Netherlands became a popular winter home for these birds. Even though the pondweed is less prominent, the birds still come. The Lauwersmeer, the wadden and the river regions are also popular as a winter home. Around two-thirds of the entire world population spends the winter in the Netherlands.

  • Protection

    Unfortunately, for years now, fewer swans are born than die. Therefore, increasingly fewer are seen in the Netherlands. In the mid 1990s, around 30,000 Bewick's swans spent the winter in this country. Now there are only 11,000, a strong decline.

    • Monitoring: Network Ecological Monitoring
    • Policy: Target Species List
    • National legislation: Flora and Fauna Regulation
    • European Agreement: Bird Directive
    • International: Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), Bern Convention, Bonn Convention