Tundra Swan
(Cygnus columbianus)


Picture of bird
© H. Loney Dickson
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Tundra Swan is the most abundant and widespread of the two swan species native to the continent (the Mute Swan being an introduced species). Mid-winter surveys are used as the primary means of tracking their annual abundance and trends. The national population is thought to have increased relative to the 1970s. However, there is currently limited information on which to base this assessment because the species is monitored on their wintering grounds instead of their breeding grounds - wintering ground surveys are less reliable than breeding ground surveys since the spatial distribution and the size of the flock of the birds are more variable and can even change in relation to weather events. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
North American Waterfowl Management PlanAbove Population Goal 2012 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaModerate IncreaseMedium

Population estimate

Canada100,000 - 500,000 birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Tundra Swans are managed as two distinct populations and the management plans for both populations have established goals for collecting more information. Goals include: improving the mid-winter survey to obtain better counts of swans, developing breeding ground surveys to estimate breeding populations and trends, identifying and protecting of breeding, staging and wintering habitats, and gathering more information on aboriginal harvest to better estimate the total harvest. Tundra Swan hunting is not allowed in Canada and is strictly regulated in the United States.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario Region
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region