Sighting of apparent Whooper Swan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Dianne Shuttleworth

584 Nassau Crescent, Qualicum Beach, B.C.  V9K 1C6;  email:

Abstract: A possible Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) was photographed in flight in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in January of 2008. It had been part of a group of  Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator) feeding in a field. It appeared to be an adult or sub-adult bird with extensive yellowish markings on the bill, similar to those of a Whooper Swan. However, it had yellowish or yellow-grey legs instead of the usual black. Photographs were sent to various ornithologists in Europe and North America who are familiar with whooper and/or North American swans. Opinions were divided; some identified it as a Whooper Swan while others said it was not. Some suggested it might be a hybrid with whooper parentage. Diagnosis as a leucistic Trumpeter Swan was ruled out by expert opinion and failure to conform to any known colour variant. I conclude that the bird was most likely a Whooper Swan with leucistic legs and feet. It is possible that the bird was a domestic escapee although that is less likely in the western parts of North America. Three previous records of Whooper Swans have been published and apparently accepted for British Columbia.

Key words: Whooper Swan, (Cygnus cygnus), Trumpeter Swan, (Cygnus buccinator), range, accidental, distribution, occurrence, hybrid, leucism, escapee

PDFicon Shuttleworth, D. 2008. Sighting of apparent Whooper Swan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. British Columbia Birds 18:32-35.


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