Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The tundra swan, Cygnus columbianus, breeds in arctic areas of Alaska, Canada, and Russia. North American populations winter mainly along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America, as well as at the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Other scattered wintering areas also exist in Utah, and the species can be seen in the state during migration. During migration and in the winter, tundra swans prefer marshes, lakes, large rivers, and fields. They migrate in flocks that are usually comprised of family members.

Nests of plant material are built on tundra near water. The female lays a clutch of about five eggs; the eggs are incubated by the female alone for about one month. The young can fly at about ten weeks of age, but stay with their parents until the following breeding season.

The tundra swan eats primarily aquatic plants, but it also eats grasses and some aquatic invertebrates. The species is hunted on a limited basis in Utah.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.