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Five white swans with black feet and a black beak in flight in winter
Information icon Tundra swans on the wing at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.

Tundra swan

Cygnus columbianus

  • Taxon: Anseriformes, Anatidae
  • Range: Tundra swans breed primarily in Alaska and northern Canada and winter on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. The eastern population migrates southeast to coastal areas from Delaware to North Carolina, while the western population migrates south to the Pacific Northwest and several inland areas.
  • Status: Not listed, low concern – Continental population sizes exceed 200,000, and populations appear to have been increasing since the early 1980s.


Breeding birds prefer areas with extensive wetlands and lakes with long shorelines. Tundra swans use a variety of large lakes and smaller wetlands, especially where submersed aquatic vegetation is plentiful. During fall and winter, flocks will also feed and loaf in agricultural fields.


During the summer, tundra swans eat primarily roots, stems and leaves of aquatic vegetation, such as mannagrass, pondweeds, and even algae. Their diet changes during migration and while on the wintering grounds. During those colder periods, look for tundra swans in fields gleaning corn, soybeans, and rice left after the harvest, and feeding on growing winter crops such as winter wheat, rye and barley.

More than a dozen large white swans eating grass in a field. One swan has a large band around its neck
Tundra swans at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Keith Ramos, USFWS.

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Designated critical habitat

This species is not listed as under the Endangered Species Act; there is no critical habitat designated.

Federal Register notices

The following Federal Register documents were automatically gathered by searching the Federal Register Official API with this species’ scientific name ordered by relevance. You can conduct your own search on the Federal Register website.

  • We're sorry but an error occurred. Visit the Federal Register to conduct your own search.

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