7 Birds That Look Like Swans


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Hello! Picture this: a serene lake, its dusk, and the elegant swan glides over the calm waters, leaving a trail of beauty. These feathery friends have been the epitome of grace in the avian realm. Nevertheless, imagine if you saw other birds that look like swans. Would you notice or differentiate between the two? It’s confusing! Right?

Okay, worry not; let’s embark on a short journey to unveil the enchanting universe of birds that look like swans. So, without wasting any time, let’s dive in straight.

Read Also: Swan-Themed fun: A Review of the Swan Lake Songs

7 Birds That Look Like Swans

American White Pelican

Birds That Look Like Swans

If you’ve gone hunting and aren’t sure what swans look like, then there is a high chance that you might just shoot an American white pelican. Don’t be surprised! You can hardly differentiate these bird species from tundra swans from a distance.

You may also like: Different Species of Swans and How to Identify Each: Breeds of Swans. 8 Famous

This bird stands out for its stunning appearance and size. The white plumage with distinctive black wingtips gives them a majestic and elegant look. Their yellow-orange bills also give them a big contrast from afar. With an eight- to nine-foot wingspan, American white pelican seems enormous when you get near them. You can easily spot these birds in North America.

What’s more fascinating about American white pelican birds is that their neck gets tucked while they fly. Furthermore, they fly so high in the sky that they can disappear into the dense clouds.

During breeding, you would easily spot these birds in colonies on freshwater lakes or islands. Hundreds of couples may nest together in these colonies, which can grow considerably.

Great Egret

Birds That Look Like Swans

You may have seen the great egret if you’re a bird lover and live in North America. This is one of those giant birds that are naturally attractive. However, Ardea alba, or the great egret in the real sense, is smaller than the white heron. Like swans, the great egret displays an astonishing beauty of pure white plumage. You’ll hardly differentiate the two from afar.

Swans are famous for having long, elegant necks that frequently extend into an S-shape whenever they feed. On the other hand, you’ll notice that the great egret also has long necks. However, the egret’s neck doesn’t curve to form an S-shape.

If you take a stride along the coastal areas, swamps, and marshes, you can easily spot both the egret and a swan since they all have a capitative courtship and synchronized swimming display.

Another important thing to mention is that the great egrets are more likely to feed on fish and other smaller animals that they snatch in the shallow waters; swans are more herbivores.

Great Blue Heron

Birds That Look Like Swans

Ardea Herodias, commonly known as the great blue heron, is a vast wandering bird that resembles swans. These birds are primarily sighted in Central America, Northern South America, Galapagos, and the Caribbean islands. The great blue heron is taller than you can imagine; it is about 3.3-4.5 feet and has a wingspan that could stretch up to 7 feet wide.

While in the sky, you would be convinced it’s a swan. Their graceful, long, S-shaped beak is a dagger. With their cool blue-grey feathers, the great blue heron is eye-catching to any bird watcher.

Their foraging skills are of high IQ; these birds can stand still in shallow waters and target a fish before they strike using their sharp beaks. These are only a few aspects that the great blue heron may differ from swans. But it’s fascinating! Right?

Black-bellied Whistling -Duck

The black-bellied whistling duck is similar to a tundra swan in numerous ways. Both tundra swans and the black-bellied whistling duck belong to the order Anseriformes, which includes swans, geese, and ducks.

Besides sharing the same order, these birds are great distant travelers. One of the fascinating things is that while tundra swans may be breeding in the southern regions, black-bellied whistling ducks also move to the south during winter to find suitable breeding grounds.

With their vibrant pink bill, these magnificent birds are long-legged, which looks unusual. In areas like Louisiana and Texas, be alert for noisy flocks in the fields since black-bellied whistling-duck love foraging in flocks. Both Black-bellied whistling-duck are primarily herbivores and mostly forage on grains, grasses, and aquatic plants.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Birds That Look Like Swans

Whistling ducks are unique birds and have 8 species that are brightly colored. And if you’ve never seen these creatures, please try to see them. They look so beautiful! Whistling ducks have a mixture of rich caramel-black and brown plumage with a long neck and legs. These birds are mostly seen in warm freshwater lakes or marshes across Asia, Africa, and America.

In the US, fulvous whistling-duck are barely seen just a few miles from the rice fields. Here, there is optimal water and food to feed on. According to Edward L. Flickinger, one of the most astonishing facts about Fulvous whistling-duck is that due to their frequent behavior of resting on trees, folks nicknamed them “tree ducks.”

At other times, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks forage on aquatic plants. However, unlike the black-bellied whistling ducks, these birds filter whatever they feed, removing mud that contains seeds or small stones. These birds have a well-developed lamella in their bill and feature a steady nail at the tip.

You’ll be surprised at how the male whistling ducks carry themselves. Yes! Similar to swans, these birds form monogamous bonds and would stay with one female partner for a lifetime.

The Emperor Goose

Birds That Look Like Swans

The lovely emperor goose is a graceful species that is scarce in Alaska. It’s beautifully patterned in black and gray, with majestic bright orange and white crown legs that stand out. Emperor geese are nocturnal avian species that live on brackish marshes and rocky beaches, where they eat barnacles, sea lettuce, eelgrass, and mussels.

The emperor geese nest in Eastern Russia and at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Although their population appears to be multiplying during the late twentieth century, Emperor geese are still among those species that are pinned on the watch list.

These graceful birds obtained their name from an adult hindneck and white crown resembling an ermine trim on a regal robe. The Emperor goose is sometimes called beach goose due to their year-round love for the coastal ecosystem where they nest and forage.

In Alaska, some people refer to Emperor Goose as the “beach goose” because of its year-round preference for coastal environments, where it mostly roosts on beaches when not foraging. An older common name for the species is “painted goose,” referring to its beautiful plumage.

Snow Goose

Meet the snow goose Anser caerulescens, a true eye-catcher in the world of birds! Once you set your eyes on this bird, you’ll understand why they are called “blue geese .”Their body is covered with a bluish morph and black wing tips, making them look elegant and beautiful. What contrasts them most is their elegant white head. It’s as if they had a built-in outfit for any occasion!

Snow geese are famous for their huge wingspan of between 53-67 inches. They are the supermodels of the avian runway!

Now, comparing these two avian beauties, swans and snow geese share a few style secrets. Let’s begin with their neck; both have long, gracefully curved necks. Also, their beaks are long and robust. Their white morph can easily confuse you with the differentiation between swans and snow geese. Thus, both appear to be members of the “elegance in light club.”

We also have to acknowledge the migratory nature of these two avian species. During winter, both swans and snow gees embark on long migratory journeys, flying vast miles between their flashy breeding sites and comfortable breeding grounds.

FAQs About Birds That Look Like Swans

How can you differentiate between a black swan and a mute swan?

Young ones of black swans appear to be grey, unlike young ones of mute swans, which appear to be much darker.

How many species of swan do exist?

Scientists have so far proved that only six true species of swans exist. These include the Tundra Swan, Whooper Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Mute Swan, Black Swan, and the Black-Necked Swan. However, the Coscoroba Swan species is not seen as a true swan linked to a whistling duck.

Are there relatives of mute swans?

Have you ever heard of the South American black-necked swan and the Australian black swan? Well, if yes, these are commonly called relatives of mute swans.

Final Thoughts

In the avian world, swans are still brushstrokes of gracefulness and elegance. But still, as we explore the world of birds, other birds look like swans. We find these birds to be also attractive and are of similar importance as swans. In this article, we’ve made things easier for you to distinguish the two. All in all, let’s protect their well-being by preserving their habitats. They’re nature’s gift, and they make our peaceful universe.


  1. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/overview#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20largest%20North,give%20them%20a%20prehistoric%20look.
  2. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0261963
  3. https://pubs.usgs.gov/publication/5220562
  4. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/black-bellied-whistling-duck#:~:text=Black%2Dbellied%20whistling%20ducks%20form,at%20both%20daytime%20and%20nighttime.
  5. https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Anser_caerulescens/

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