Whooper swans spend their summer in Iceland, northern Scandinavia and Russia. Here they breed (lay eggs and raise chicks) before flying south to spend the winter in Scotland, northern England and Ireland.
Whooper swans have to fly about 800km (500 miles) to get from Iceland to Scotland, or nearly 1,300km (800 miles) to get from Iceland to Ireland. These are probably the longest overseas flights undertaken by any swan species. For the Whooper swans that make those journeys every year there are no places to stop and rest, it’s a direct flight.
Whooper swans make those journeys with their young who can be as little as 12 weeks old. On the way they have to cope with extreme weather, avoid hunters and other hazards such as power lines and wind farms.
WWT is helping to protect Whooper swans by fitting them with satellite trackers so we can see where the swans fly and plot their route on a map. This helps to show the challenges the swans face on their long journey and what we can do to help.
Where to see Whooper swans and find out more
You can see Whooper swans at WWT Llanelli, Martin Mere, Caerlaverock, Castle Espie and Welney and hear them in our wetland sounds gallery.
To see where some of our satellite tracked birds fly, visit our tracking map at tracking.wwt.org.uk.