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Swan ID - Male/Female (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I was wondering if someone could give me advice on how to ID a male from a female.

We have one single swan which has been coming to our local river for 5 years now, it has never had a mate in this 5 years and I don't know which gender it is.

Could it be a young bird? I believe that swans do not pair/breed until they are quite a few years old.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you

Rin x



Well-known member
Hi Rin,

The Males tend to be bigger than the females. But also you can tell the sex of a full grown adult with the size of the knob on the head of the bird. Males are bigger whereas female are smaller. Young Birds (Cygnets, Yearling) will have brown feathers in their plumage and adult birds are all white

Cheers Kane


Axeman (Retired)
Hi Rin,
What Kane has said is spot on. With a single swan it can sometimes be difficult to judge size and to judge the size of the knob at the base of the bill.

However, you say that the bird has been coming to the river for 5 years. This suggests that it is not there all of the time. Does it appear at a particular time of the year and disappear at other times. For example, does it overwinter with you. I note that you are in a very northern position and it is, I believe, an area where not many Mute Swans occur. Is this a Whooper Swan with a yellow and black bill? If so, the only way without catching the bird is to sex it on size and that is only a general thing, females tending to be a bit smaller than the males but not always obvious and not necessarily easy with a single bird.


Well-known member
Thanks for the advice fellow birders but definitely a Mute Swan.

Here are a couple of snaps, will upload some closer ones tomorrow.

The Swan appears at the end of March each year and stays for a couple of months. Not a resident.

Happy for the visit, you can get right up to the river bank edge without scaring it away. Seems used to humans wandering past.

Next lot of advice hastily awaited.


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Clive Timmons

Well-known member
No expert but definitely Male Mute the nob or berry is Male the colour of its beak is bright so full adult and if its been with you every year for 5 years then more than 5 years old I guess they molt after breeding and do not fly during this period

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