Wednesday 9 March 2016

Mute Swan x Black Swan

Mute Swan x Black Swan hybrid, West Midlands (UK), 13th January 2012 - copyright John Oates
(photo ID: 2734)

John tells us that this first-winter bird was the only surviving offspring of a male Mute Swan & a female Black Swan that nested at Marsh Lane Nature Reserve in 2011.  It disappeared shortly after this photo was taken.

Mute Swan Cygnus olo
Black Swan Cygnus atratus


  1. Looks like a mute swan to me. Can't find any characters from black swan, so why a hybrid? That a black and mute swan raised it doesn't mean that they are the parents.

    1. Hi Magnus, thanks for the comment. You are right to say that being raised by both species doesn't mean that it was necessarily the offspring of both, however I think this one is quite typical in appearance for Black Swan x Mute Swan hybrids. The speckling on the head and neck is atypical of pure Mute Swan of this age and typical of Black Swan x Mute Swan hybrids. Also pure Mute Swan of this age would be expected to have a clear-cut straight border between the reddish bill and the black at the base of the bill. If I saw this characteristic in isolation I might put it down as being aberrant, but together with the dark mottling on the head and neck and the coincidence of the accompanying adults I think it stacks up in favour of it being a hybrid. Always good to challenge these IDs though - we do make mistakes sometimes and always welcome comments like this.