The Northwest European population of Bewick’s Swan has fallen from around 29,000 birds in 1995 to fewer than 18,000 at present. As a result, Bewick’s Swan was classified as Endangered on the European Red List of Birds, produced by BirdLife International in 2015. Currently, it is unclear whether this population decrease has been caused by lower productivity or lower survival or a combination of both.
Through the Goose & Swan Monitoring Programme, WWT has been monitoring the annual breeding success (or productivity) of Bewick’s Swans in Britain, continuing from the early days of Sir Peter Scott. Therefore, data are available on breeding success from the 1960s to the present.
In a recent paper in Journal of Avian Biology, WWT’s Kevin Wood and co-authors found no evidence for a long-term change in the measures of breeding success – the proportion of cygnet Bewick’s Swans in the population or the mean number of cygnets per family group. Together, these findings suggest no long-term change in Bewick’s Swan breeding success that might account for the ongoing decline in numbers arriving in northwest Europe each winter.
To read more on the decline of Bewick’s Swan, possible causes and future conservation work, download the latest edition of GooseNews. For the latest survey results, see the GSMP Bewick’s Swan Species Account.